Monday, 11 December 2017

Shoot the Messenger?


Huntington's chorea is a devastating neurological disease in which a faulty gene produces messenger RNA which codes for a toxic protein that gradually destroys the brain. A recent, smallish trial has, however, generated some very encouraging results. Here, a synthetic strand of DNA is injected into the brain that 'kills' the messenger RNA and reduces the production of the toxic protein, slowing the progression of the disease (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/dec/11/excitement-as-huntingtons-drug-shown-to-slow-progress-of-devastating-disease). This is not a cure but the slowing of symptoms may not only be good news for Huntington's sufferers as the technology (using variants of synthetic DNA) may also be applicable to patients with Alzheimer's dementia and Parkinson's disease (there also appear to be faulty proteins in these conditions).

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