[ExI] A Massive New Gene Editing Project Is Out to Crush Alzheimer’s
possiblepaths2050 at gmail.com
Fri Apr 16 11:24:42 UTC 2021
"When it comes to Alzheimer’s versus science, science is on the losing
Alzheimer’s is cruel in the most insidious way. The disorder creeps up in
some aging brains, gradually eating away at their ability to think and
reason, whittling down their grasp on memories and reality. As the world’s
population ages, Alzheimer’s is rearing its ugly head at a shocking rate.
And despite decades of research, we have no treatment—not to mention a cure.
Too much of a downer? The National Institutes of Health (NIH) agrees. In one
of the most ambitious projects
in biology, the NIH is corralling Alzheimer’s and stem cell researchers to
come together in the largest genome editing project
The idea is simple: decades of research have found certain genes that seem
to increase the chance of Alzheimer’s and other dementias. The numbers
range over hundreds. Figuring out how each connects or influences
another—if at all—takes years of research in individual labs. What if
scientists unite, tap into a shared resource, and collectively solve the
case of why Alzheimer’s occurs in the first place?
The initiative’s secret weapon is induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs.
Similar to most stem cells, they have the ability to transform into
anything—a cellular Genie, if you will. iPSCs are reborn from regular adult
cells, such as skin cells. When transformed into a brain cell, however,
they carry the original genes of their donor, meaning that they harbor the
original person’s genetic legacy—for example, his or her chance of
developing Alzheimer’s in the first place. What if we introduce
Alzheimer’s-related genes into these reborn stem cells, and watch how they
By studying these iPSCs, we might be able to follow clues that lead to the
genetic causes of Alzheimer’s
and other dementias—paving the road for gene therapies to nip them in the
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