Viral-based genetic manipulation

Having just returned from vacation I’m a bit behind in posting things. So while catching up on some of my science reading I came across a story about gene-based research into anti-aging bladee-blah (has something to do with shutting off the srr-2 gene or something like that).

Which reminds me of an incident that occurred many decades ago (I kid you not) when I was a younger lad in college. One night a couple of friends of mine who were in pre-med were frustrated with a chemistry or biology project they had to turn in. They were pulling an all-nighter, of course, because they had not solved the problem they were presented with.

I don’t recall exactly what they were trying to do but it had something to do with altering the behavior of a single cell. They showed me a picture of the cell, and it had all these long ridge-like shapes in it that were supposedly “identical” to the non-ridge-like regions of the cell. They wanted to do something to the ridge-like shapes without doing anything to the non-ridge-like regions.

In a moment of feigned superiority one of the guys said to me, “So how would would you tackle this problem, Michael?”

I scratched my head and said something like, “I dunno nothin’ about birthin’ no babies, but if’n it were me, I’d introduce some sort of selective molecule into the structure designed to tackle just the region I wanted to affect.”

And at that point the other fellow yelled out: “A virus! We’ll design a virus to infect the cell and alter its biology!”

I think one of those guys went on to become a doctor and one went on to become a veterinarian. I have no idea of whether either got involved with gene therapy but it seems to me that maybe we’re just now beginning to figure out what I intuitively deduced decades ago.

So, in this humble moment of ego-centrically inflammated recollection, I shall lay stake to whatever credit I may for advancing the cause of cellular-manipulation science.


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