Scientists Make 1st Attempt to Permanently Change a Person’s DNA

Society | November 15, 2017, Wednesday // 15:05|  views

For the first time, scientists have tried to edit a gene inside a person’s body, in an effort to cure disease, reported The Independent.

On Monday, 44-year-old Brian Madeux – who has a metabolic disease called Hunter syndrome – received billions of copies of a corrective gene through an IV, along with a tool to cut his DNA in the relevant location.

Signs of whether it's working may come in a month, and tests will show for sure in three months.

If the treatment is successful, it could give a major boost to the fledgling field of gene therapy. Prior to this, scientists have altered cells in the lab that are then returned to patients, but never before has it been attempted in someone’s body.

 There also are gene therapies that don't involve editing DNA.

But these methods can only be used for a few types of diseases, and some give results that may not last or could cause a new problem like cancer.

This time, the gene tinkering is happening in a precise way inside the body. It's like sending a mini surgeon along to place the new gene in exactly the right location.

"We cut your DNA, open it up, insert a gene, stitch it back up. Invisible mending," said Dr Sandy Macrae, president of Sangamo Therapeutics, the California company testing this strategy for two metabolic diseases and haemophilia. "It becomes part of your DNA and is there for the rest of your life."

That also means there's no going back, no way to erase any mistakes the editing might cause.

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Tags: desease, DNA, gene, science


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