July 10, 2005
What Bioethicists Don't Do...
Probably because C.S. Lewis and Star Trek are so much easier...
Today our team confirmed our previous preliminary data showing that we can achieve robust mitochondrial transfection and protein expression in mitochondria of live rats, after an injection of genetically engineered mitochondrial DNA complexed with our protofection transfection agent. A significant fraction of cells in the brain is transfected with this single injection even though we so far did not optimize the dose. This achievement has important implications for medicine: protofection technology works in vivo, and should be capable of replacing damaged mitochondrial genomes.
Now why exactly is this interesting? Should you even give a damn?
Well for starters, it's beginning to look as though mitochondrial failure is implicated in a number of our unpleasant biological failure modes. Yet, as with so many other of our systemic breakdowns, there hasn't been a great deal we could do about it. That may be changing.
Here's Dr. Smigrodski...
A few months ago I promised to post an article on mitochondria and aging which I was writing with Shaharyar Khan, and finally I can keep my promise. "Mitochondrial microheteroplasmy and a theory of aging and age-related disease" will be published in Rejuvenation Research in August. Here is the text (without figures) and I can send the pdf to anyone interested.
Here is an extremely pared-down version of the above paper...
We implicate a recently described form of mitochondrial mutation, mitochondrial microheteroplasmy, as a candidate for the principal component of aging. Microheteroplasmy is the presence of hundreds of independent mutations in one organism, with each mutation usually found in 1 - 2% of all mitochondrial genomes. Despite the low abundance of single mutations, the vast majority of mitochondrial genomes in all adults are mutated...We postulate that microheteroplasmy is sufficient to explain the pathomechanism of several age-associated diseases, especially in conditions with known mitochondrial involvement...
So after all that you have a better idea why the following news is so very encouraging.
...protofection technology works in vivo, and should be capable of replacing damaged mitochondrial genomes...
To my mind, this is the sort of thing that doctors should be doing with their time. You know, healing the sick, discovering cures?
Leave Plato and Montaigne to the Bioethical Mandarins.
posted by Justin on 07.10.05 at 01:36 PM
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference What Bioethicists Don't Do...:
» Human Innovation: Fixing your mitochondria from DownsizeDC.com
Hundreds of millions of years ago small psuedo-bacteria invaded more complex cells, beginning eons of bio-economic trade and eventual symbiosis â€“ the permanent joining of two organisms into one. These invisible invaders are inside you right now, all th [Read More] Tracked on July 25, 2005 3:32 PM
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