Future genetic therapy could be as simple as applying a topical lotion, with nanoscale compounds soaking through your epidermis to tweak your DNA. This new class of nucleic acid structures could guard against some types of skin cancer, according to researchers at Northwestern University.
Despite its tendency to dry out or burn in the summer sun, human skin is an incredibly tough barrier, preventing all kinds of invaders from entering the body. While a skin cream can be a useful way to target certain skin-related disorders, it can only go so deep. This new breakthrough from Amy S. Paller and Chad Mirkin at Northwestern combines chemistry and dermatology to break on through.
It uses agglomerations of nucleic acids, each about 1,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. When dispersed in a topical lotion, the nucleic acid clumps can breach all the skin's layers. Once they're inside the cells, they can selectively turn off disease-causing genes. The acid agglomerates can distinguish between healthy and mutant genes, like those that can cause cancer.
The acid clumps are actually small interfering RNA, also known as siRNA, which can regulate gene activity. They are highly customizable, and can be programmed to target a specific gene. In this case, the researchers studied epidermal growth factor receptor, which is associated with certain types of cancer. The RNA particles surround a tiny gold nanoparticle, forming a dense sphere. The resulting "nanostructure" can break through the skin entirely, and the RNAs broke down the EGFR gene.
The researchers tried it on mice and on human skin, and found no side effects after one month. The researchers call it a landmark achievement. "The skin is a very tough barrier to go through, which is why this effective gene knockdown has not been accomplished before," Mirkin said in a statement.
The paper appears in today's edition of the linktextProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
I suppose the scientist have successfully found a way to let the gene out of the lotion bottle to tweak our ow DNA wishes. Thanks for sliding me some new skin, epidermis researchers! ;)
Coming soon: Avon Genomorphic Moisture Therapy - oncogene repression, eye color modification, and dry skin prevention.
Am I the only one who sees this method of delivery being used for nefarious purposes? If you can turn off disease causing genes this way, could you not also turn them on?
The questions are how specific can you get with the targeting of certain genes? Will we be able to customize our melanin production? What if a person has a very unique gene structure or rare skin disease to begin with and this technology recognizes a healthy gene as a mutant gene and deletes it? What if it targets your hair follicles and activates all of them and you become one of those people with hair that grows everywhere?Suppose we had already begun a new step in evolution and a new positive trait which would be basically a mutation is something in our skin and we delete it?
If you laid out in the sun when you are young, you could develop skin cancer when you are old. If you are exposed to radiation when you are young, you can get cancer 30 years later.
And the proof that this stuff is safe is because they put it on mice and some humans, and a month later there is no problems? (BTW define "problems", as in yeah no skin rash, not dieing, but is that the definition of safe?)
They talk about gene manipulation as if is this simple turn it on, turn it off kind of operation. From what I can see that is a VERY native approach.
.....or they can add in stuff u dont want but would never know. but i would like a few genetic tattoos....rub it in and it change ur skin color to whatever shape it was applied. gentically color my hair to blue? eyes red or orange? sure why not...future gene tech can do wonders...
The title should be, A Topically Applied Skin Lotion That Regulates Your Genes.
Perhaps transgenders will use this cream to turn off the Y chromosome and just leave the X chromosome. A few years later a male will gently, naturally change to a female.
In fact this has already been used by the military in a project called funvax (google it). They also (opportunistically perhaps) claimed responsibility for Arab Spring. Personally, I couldn't say funvax was wrongly applied, but the implications of people like the Bush cartel applying it are not comforting. Other versions potentially available to political idealists: Need to repress revolution? try somavax. Want to stimulate the economy? try buyvax. Need a more compliant workforce? use slavevax. Without oversight, it has potential for abuse, but who oversees the overseers? I imagine a stalemate between superpowers as the most reliable control, (like atom bomb treaties) and ways of obtaining and testing samples for verification. On the other hand it might be the way people finally manage to get along.
There's another article here on popsci about bat species going extinct from white nose fungus infections in their colonies. How possible would it be to use gene modification to change their tendency to group (up which transmits the disease)? it's probably possible given money & willpower. a gene would have to be identified that solitary roosting bats don't have, (or vice versa, that solitary bats have which colony roosting bats don't), then flip it from one state to the other. apply it w/ a fogger in their roosts. How much does a project like that cost?
OK sorry: a ramification of WhiteNoseVax would be that it's development would put the formula into the public sector, & the technology would be available to anyone w/ enough money, sane or not.
This can be awesome, and awful, depending on the controllers of nanotech.
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