Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Upside of Bad Genes

A recent article about the "Upside of Bad Genes" in The New York Times said there is a possibility of new developments that will allow doctors and scientists to erase/delete harmful genes all together.  The new technology is called Crispr-Cas9, this method is still a few years off from being used in clinical settings due to the fact that scientists are still unsure about unknown consequences.  While the ability to delete 'harmful' genes seems like an amazing concept; however, for people in sub-Saharan Africa can actually benefit from the "harmful" Sickle Cell gene.  If an imaginary couple had four children, one would most likely have Sickle Cell Anemia, but two of the children would likely have one Sickle Cell gene which will prevent them from Malaria, which is a big concern in countries like Africa and India.  This is also hypothesized for Cystic Fibrosis, two genes causes the disease, but one gene may be able to help prevent Tuberculosis.  The question now is, do we delete the gene even though it has helped in the past? This is a hard question to answer, and I don't think we have enough research to answer it yet.  In certain parts of the world people benefit from having one copy of the gene but the people that have two copies of the gene will continue to suffer; without the gene all together more people may become affected by the disease.

1 comment:

  1. That is so interesting, I had no idea that sickle cell anemia prevented malaria or that CF could prevent TB. But it is also an interesting feat trying to delete the harmful gene in replacement for the potentially helpful one. I guess we will find out!