Thursday, September 17, 2009

Successful Gene Therapy: Researchers Cure Color Blindness in Monkeys

Successful gene therapy, by transferring genes from one monkey to another, was performed by researchers at the University of Washington.

The researchers transferred the gene for blue-green color from female squirrel monkeys to males by injecting them with a virus. Males can distinguish red and yellow but until now, they couldn't distinguish blue and green due to lacking a key protein.

You can read the report here, but the whole thing is amazing to me. Here's the salient points (in my opinion):

  • Scientists can transfer a gene by attaching it to a virus, and then the virus can carry it into the cells of a living organism.

  • The scientists can transfer the genes from the correct cells in the female monkey to the correct cells in the male monkeys so that the necessary eye protein is produced.

  • One protein makes the difference between being able to distinguish these colors and not being able to. Life is amazing!

I heard a news report years ago that researchers were able to make chickens be born with scales rather than feathers by blocking one protein from forming in the egg.

Don't underestimate the power of DNA. It codes for all of life. Every organism in existence consists of cells that read the same code. It completely erases the imaginary line between "micro" evolution and "macro" evolution.

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