Tuesday, November 14, 2017

No More Cholesterol

In an article posted by Julie Steenhuysen on the Reuter's website, it informs that there are studies being done using nanotechnology to permanently edit genes. In "Nanotech, gene editing used to edit cholesterol gene: U.S. study," US researchers are integrating nanotechnology and gene editing techniques, specifically CRISPR.  In my last article I mentioned that a company was going to use a virus-like vehicle to deliver the CRISPR scissors, in this article, researchers are instead inserting chemically-modified CRISPR components into nano-scale fat particles and injecting them into mice, where they eventually make their way to liver cells. Located in these liver cells is the gene of interest, PCSK9- otherwise known as the cholesterol gene. While some drug companies have been able to synthesize drugs that inhibit this mechanism (shown above), many of these drugs are ineffective for patients who suffer from high cholesterol. Researchers now believe that they can get rid of this gene all together so that patients who suffer from atherosclerosis and hypercholesterolaemia can find relief. The same team of researchers are hoping to find other liver-associated diseases that they can possibly treat with their nanotechnology/CRISPR system.

I think that these researchers have an ingenious way of transporting the CRISPR technology into the body. There is a better chance that the body will invite the fat particles instead of unknown virus vehicles which our antibodies can attack. The removal of this gene would mean that no cholesterol proteins are synthesized, even in future filial generations! While this does sound amazing, it also does scare me that genes can be erased so easily. Who decides who gets this power?? There needs to be limitations to who can use this kind of technology. I understand that some researchers are using this technology for scientific reasons, but then there are others who will abuse it till no end. Also, this research makes me think what problems will arise due to the cholesterol gene deletion. Since we evolved with this gene, it has to play a more significant role in our genome in some way or another. Ultimately, I hope this research gives light to cures for other prominent diseases in our society today.




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