Scientific Discovery: Editing Ones Own Genetic Information and The Church   Leave a comment

Introduction

As I was going through the Internet to find an article on scientific news, I came across a Popular Science article in the Health section. The article speaks of how for the first time, “scientists using a combination of gene-editing technologies have corrected mutations in a patient’s own induced stem cells. The breakthrough could pave the way toward reprogramming a person’s own cells to cure genetic diseases, rather than using transplanted organs and drug therapies.” This is indeed a breakthrough in Genetic Medicine that I believe should be investigated further so that we may move away from the specter of Embryonic-Stem Cell Research. Let this new technology be developed, so that we can limit the number of people needed in order to save a life.

The Article

The article begins by discussing the difficulty of Gene Editing by stating that,

“They [Stem Cells] can come with unwanted mutations, however. For one thing, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) would contain the same genetic defects as the rest of a patient’s body, so you’d have to remove those defects before you could treat a person with his or her own cells. But this removal can be imprecise; current editing methods can cause misplaced alleles or residual genetic sequences, which can lead to formation of cancer or other unwanted side effects.”

There are a whole slew of genetic-related disorders that can take place if the very foundation to cellular development is flawed in some way, as the article mentions cancer is one of them, and depending on where the Stem Cells are placed there could be tissue/organ specific damage that takes place as well. However according to the article Scientist from two UK institutions have managed to create a, “careful editing method to snip out incorrect gene sequences in the stem cells and replace them with the correct kind.”

What interested me most in this news is where they got the Stem Cells, the article points out that the scientists were able to, “skin cells from a patient and turned them into iPS cells. Then they used genetic scissors, zinc-finger nucleases, to snip the genetic sequence at the site of the mutation. They also used a piggyBAC transposon, which cuts and pastes genetic information. In this way, they were able to correct both alleles involved in the mutation of this liver gene.” As some of us may know about Stem Cells, they can adapt and change into any cell that is needed, and so from a skin cell to a Stem Cell they changed it into a Liver Cell without the genetic mutation.

Conclusion

This is the best news possible we could have ever heard, we are beginning to see that it is possible to take Stem Cells from the surface of our bodies, edit them out and re-implant them into the part of our body which needs them the most. All of this without harming an embryo, without destroying life in order to save life. We have come a long way, and yet there is still more time needed for this technique to be developed and worked on. If there is a place to fund such research it ought to be popularized and given significant air time so people can know where they can put their money.

To be clear Religion and Science was never meant to butt-heads with one another. This case is no different, whether historically or contemporarily, medicine is something that is good. I have said elsewhere that the ultimate purpose of Science should be to discover new ways or improving old ways of alleviating suffering and to discover and understand the whole of the creation. The Catholic Church is not against Stem Cell Research, it is only against the specific kind of Stem Cell Research that involves embryo’s. A recent article from TheBlaze.Com proves my point all the more by stating that,

“The Vatican’s culture office and NeoStem Inc., are hosting a three-day conference starting Wednesday on adult stem cells, drawing scientists, patients, biotech CEOs and cardinals together. This partnership is the first time the Vatican has partnered with a publicly traded company to advance scientific research.”

The article comes with a video as well. There is nothing more nicer to see than the image of a man in Clerical Vestments talking cooperatively in a room full of scientists, to shatter a popular image in the popular consciousness. Indeed, the Church should be a Patron for future scientific endeavors as it was in the old days. In the end the article concerning Genetic Editing with The Church’s Participation in funding scientific research of Adult Stem Cell Therapy is indeed a promising combination for the future!

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Posted November 20, 2011 by jimbo9889 in Current Events

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