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Biotech Medicine Science

Fixing Faulty Genes On the Cheap 105

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-if-i-like-the-worn-out-look dept.
An anonymous reader sends an article about CRISPR, a system for modifying genes and moving them from cell to cell. It's notable because the cost to do so is dropping to the point where it's becoming viable to use on a patient-by-patient basis. CRISPR is one of those interesting inventions that comes, not from scientists explicitly trying to cure a disease, but from researchers trying to understand something fundamental about nature. Jennifer Doudna's research at the University of California, Berkeley has focused on how bacteria fight the flu. It turns out bacteria don't like getting flu any more than the rest of us do. Doudna says the way bacteria fight off a flu virus gave her and her colleagues an idea. Bacteria have special enzymes that can cut open the DNA of an invading virus and make a change in the DNA at the site of the cut — essentially killing the virus. Doudna and other scientists figured out how this defense system works in bacteria; that was interesting all by itself. But then they realized that they could modify these enzymes to recognize any DNA sequence, not just the DNA sequence of viruses that infect bacteria.
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Fixing Faulty Genes On the Cheap

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  • by Nutria (679911) on Friday June 27, 2014 @01:34PM (#47334417)

    a crazy Arab, will try to weaponize it.

    Hilarity will not ensue...

  • by NEDHead (1651195) on Friday June 27, 2014 @02:02PM (#47334645)

    There is some evidence that the appendix acts as a reservoir of the gut biota to repopulate when the need arises due to illness (or excessive antibiotics, etc).

  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday June 27, 2014 @03:18PM (#47335327)

    OK, smartass, what is the evolutionary advantage for stupidity?

    Smart people innovate. Dumb people follow routines because "we have always done it that way." So in a desert dwelling hunter-gather tribe enduring a drought, the smart guy innovates by digging for water and building a still. It comes up dry, and he dies of thirst. The dumb people follow the trail through the desert that their grandmother showed them decades ago, and find a waterhole.

    In an urbanized society, innovation has limited risk, and generous rewards. In a primitive society, innovation has big risks and limited reward. So people that have a long history of urbanization, such as the Chinese and Ashkenazi Jews [slashdot.org], tend to have high IQs, while the desert dwelling San Bushmen [slashdot.org] have the lowest measured. In both cases, they have adapted to the environmental conditions.

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