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Genetic Linkage

Gene Therapy Changes the Brain

It doesn't take a brain scientist to see that the visual cortex of this formerly-blind woman lights up -- after gene therapy.
It isn’t often that a brain scan chokes me up, but this one did. The fMRI shows area 17 of the visual cortex coming to life in a woman born with Leber congenital amaurosis type 2 (LCA2). She’s part of the very same gene therapy clinical trial chronicled in my upcoming book The Forever Fix: Gene Therapy and the Boy Who Saved It. The symbolic boy is Corey Haas, who, four days after gene therapy in 2008 at age 8, screamed when he saw the sun at the Philadelphia zoo, his shadow world suddenly brightened. Read More 
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Should Gene Doping Studies Be Published?

In late 2011, creation of a lab strain of of H5N1 influenza capable of spreading easily among ferrets, and presumably us, sparked heated debate about whether and when to publish scientific research that could do harm. The same could be said for gene doping.

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Gene Therapy and the 10,000-Hour Rule

“Breakthroughs” in biomedicine are rarely that – they typically rest on a decade or more of experiments. Consider gene therapy.

I just unearthed an article from the December 1990 issue of Biology Digest, "Gene Therapy." I wrote it a mere two months after the very first gene therapy experiment, the much-publicized case of 4-year-old Ashi DeSilva,  Read More 
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Gene Therapy Subverted in New Dystopian Novel, “When She Woke”

I don’t usually take too kindly to the evil geneticist stereotype in fiction, but I can’t resist a good dystopian novel. "When She Woke," by Hillary Jordan, is the perfect book  Read More 
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Respiratory Replacement Parts -- Thanks to Stem Cells

We humans might not be able to regrow a leg, as can a cockroach or salamander, or regenerate a missing half, like a flatworm, but our organs can replenish themselves – thanks to stem cells. Two new reports about opposite ends of the respiratory system may pave the way for replacement breathing parts.

A 36-year-old  Read More 
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Gene therapy on fetuses?

Gene therapy is experiencing a renaissance, with many of the recent successes in children. For some conditions, the younger the child, the better the genetic correction, because affected tissues degenerate with time. This is the case for adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), the “Lorenzo’s Oil” disease that strips the insulation from brain neurons. One goal of  Read More 
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23andMe's Exome Sequencing and the Tenth Edition of My Textbook

It’s been a strange week. The tenth edition of my human genetics textbook was published, just as 23andMe announced that they now offer whole exome sequencing, for $999. Read More 
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"The Sighted Leading the Sighted"

Normally a 9-year-old boy cavorting with a big, shaggy dog isn’t anything unusual, but when Corey Haas grabbed the leash of 1-year-old Mercury last Saturday, it was a stunning sight. For both Corey and Mercury, a briard sheepdog, were born with the exact same form of hereditary blindness, Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA). And  Read More 
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Creating Life and Curing Blindness

I’ve been at the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy annual meeting this week, garnering tales for my book, tentatively entitled “The Forever Fix.” It is largely the story of 9-year-old Corey Haas, who was on his way to certain blindness when gene therapy performed at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in September 2008  Read More 
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