Are we able to stand up and dance for joy yet that primate DNA might eradicate illness while inoperable cancer might be a thing of the past?


Can monkey DNA save from ourselves?

Researchers at Oregon Health & Science
University’s Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC) believe
they have developed one of the first forms of genetic therapy – a
therapy aimed at preventing serious diseases in unborn children.
Specifically, the therapy would combat inherited diseases passed on
from mothers to their children through mutated DNA in cell
mitochondria. The research is published in the Aug. 26 advance online
edition of the journal Nature and will appear in a print edition of the
journal at a later date.

“We believe this discovery in nonhuman primates can rapidly be
translated into human therapies aimed at preventing inherited disorders
passed from mothers to their children through the mitochondrial DNA,
such as certain forms of cancer, diabetes, infertility, myopathies and
neurodegenerative diseases,” explained Shoukhrat Mitalipov, Ph.D., an
associate scientist in the Division of Reproductive Sciences at ONPRC.
“Currently there are 150 known diseases caused by mutations of the
mitochondrial DNA, and approximately 1 out of every 200 children is
born with mitochondrial mutations.”

It’s amazing to comprehend that today’s primate research can have a direct effect on our future healthcare and well being.

The University of Nebraska’s cancer research uncovers new truths about what we thought we knew about “inoperable” cancer:

Cancer turned Ruth Gerdes
into a crusader. Unsatisfied with a diagnosis that would have meant
waiting for the slow-growing carcinoid cancer tumors on her liver to
take her life, she turned to The Nebraska Medical Center, the teaching
hospital of the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

It was there the Auburn, Neb., insurance agent and University
of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate consulted with a multidisciplinary team of
physicians, including Jean Botha, M.D., a transplant surgeon and
associate professor at UNMC. Taking advantage of the liver’s ability to
regenerate, Botha removed the tumors on the left lobe of the liver.
Three months later, after the left lobe re-grew without the tumors, he
operated on the right lobe. When it was over, the 22 tumors on her
liver were gone.

As we fiddle with DNA, and as we save the lives of the medically
condemned — are we beginning to play the role of the Gods as we
determine who will live and who will die based on access to the
research and techniques at hand?

Is
it too much to expect that every common citizen of the world should
have equal access to these research results and innovative operation
techniques?

Or do wealth and proximity to services always deal
the major hand in determining the quickness and the quality of modern
healthcare? 

4 Comments

  1. Fascinating article & an even more fascinating topic. Question will be is exactly as stated, will access to more unique techniques and methods be limited only to those who can afford it and/or to those who are persistent enough to NOT take the first diagnosis as THE only one, the only path to healing? In a perfect world, would there be free access for all (cost prohibitive at the very least), should we all have access (i.e. playing God-like as to who wins/loses, lives/dies) and is there a line or more that will be crossed in some fashion here? Personally I would be the one digging further, looking and seeking any & all answers…

  2. I’m going ape at the idea of this!
    In all seriousness, I firmly believe that all of these new fantastical medical cures do not deify us any more than eating oranges to prevent illness.
    I also think that access should be granted to everyone but fiscal greed will deny it for a long time – and that’s not a good thing.

  3. That’s some excellent insight! I think you’re right to wonder if all the riches and the spoils of the world go to the rich and the powerful — including advancing healthcare techniques. What we choose to preserve as a society tells us a lot about what we value — and throughout antiquity we idolize the totems of the rich: Gold, jewels, certain houses, some cars, castles, palaces… all expensive things “worth” preserving — while we, as a society, lose all the common articles of living. We discredit the middle class memes and modes of live. Only the monetary “valuable” is worth saving.

  4. Gordon —
    That’s good to know you don’t think playing with the very thing that makes us up — DNA — lifts us up to the power of the Gods. I suppose there’s more to being eternal than just living longer… and forming and creating new life…
    I agree that greed will be a big problem as these new technologies trickle into the marketplace. Is someone living on the upper East Side of NYC more deserving of of a “monkey DNA” baby than, say, someone living on the Ethiopian desert? The equal answer is clearly, “no.” The human answer, I think, swings in favor of Ethiopia… while the reality of it ever happening is set squarely on the upper East Side and sitting atop all that inherited trust fund wealth…