Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gene therapy for the blind

William pointed me to a BBC report on gene therapy for the blind. I am sure it's still decades away, and might not even be possible theoretically. The intervention is probably very local, but the damage to the speech system and possibly adaptation is distributed.

Think of bad genes as mistakes in a construction plan for a house. Once the house is built, correcting the mistakes are not helping. Of course, the brain is a bit different, because genes instruct the cells to build proteins for a life time. However, the main fibre structure are set at early age and never change again.


Ora said...

Not sure I agree with your metaphor of bad construction for a house.

Biological functioning continues to be affected/determined by the production of proteins well after the "construction" is completed. One of the techniques of gene therapy is to provide new genes which will express the proteins that are missing because of "mistakes in construction".

Obviously gene therapy is in its infancy and there have been very few real successes yet. But the argument that bodily processes can't be changed through gene therapy after "the house is built" doesn't seem convincing.

Anonymous said...

A lot of these genetic disorders like Tay Sachs cause the entire body to malform. Changing their genes to normal genes is probably not going to do anything since the damage is already done. Gene therapy being effective for stuttering is based on the assumption that the brain formed normally and is only missing certain proteins for fluent speech.

Will the Student said...

In that case are their not Protein drugs?

Anonymous said...

Tom, what do you want to say about this? Do you think it could be related with stuttering anyhow?