Thursday, September 22, 2005

Of Men in Mice

I have blogged before on scientific issues and how I have been concerned that we are losing our edge in science. On the other hand, it is not all bad news. When science is held back in the U.S. by cuts in budgets for basic research, and ideologically motivated decisions to attack science, it is nice to realize that there is a big world out there where research continues unabated.

With this in mind, I was heartened to read a story on chromosome transplants into mice.

The research, carried out by Elizabeth Fisher at the Institute of Neurology and Victor Tybulewicz at the National Institute for Medical Research in London, transplants a particular sequence of human genes into mice. The sequence in question is the same one that is associated with Down's syndrome. In addition, according to Dr Tybulewicz, genetic tests on the mice, which will systematically knock out different genes on the transplanted chromosome, will help identify which gene or genes cause each of the symptoms common to people with Down's syndrome. He said, "This should illuminate which genes lead to heart defects, the higher risk of leukaemia and early onset Alzheimer's,"

This is exciting news, and it is nice to see that basic research is moving forward with the hope of someday providing the cures that will help billions of people.

5 comments:

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Karen said...

My husband is a molecular biologist and has 14 years under his belt doing incredibly bizarre but ultimately amazing and useful stuff like this. I find it truly amazing that they even come up with the idea of doing this, let alone figuring out how. And I'm married to one of the ones who was doing it. weird. cool. fabulous!

Negative_Infinity said...

Welcome to the 21st Century! These are the days of miracle and wonder! At least they are in London and Lisbon, if not America. They are doing all this great stuff now in London, and already for 2 or 3 years they have been using stem cell therapy in Lisbon with remarkable results. This is not happening in America, because we have at our helm Neo-Neanderthals inhibiting us with superstitious bias against all science, asinging more credence to creation myth than evolutionary theory, more civil liberty to zygots than viable sentient living human beings, and more value to drug company profits than curing disease. Perhaps one day soon, we also will be blessed with progressive and realistic thinking leadership, who will truly lead us over the threashold into the 21st century. It will take a bunch much more imaginative, altruistic, and brave than the BushCo boys. We will be living in the New Stoned Age at least until the end of the Bush Family DieNasty.

Eli Blake said...

Negative Infinity:

Of course the miracle cures will come.

But they will come from Europe, Japan, Korea, or someplace else. The impact on America will be 1) that just that many more people will die in the time that it takes these places to catch up to and surpass our previous scientific achievement (although this is by now occurring) and 2) that the hundreds of billions, or perhaps even trillions of dollars they generate will leave this country and go elsewhere, impoverishing America even further.

dorsano said...

We need to put our faith in free market fundamentalism and the invisible had that guides the market.