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Friday, January 10, 2020

Could gene therapy cure sickle cell anemia?

A truly exciting breakthrough! The cure for sickle cell disease through gene therapy by using the vector of the HIV virus may be the doorway to curing thousands of genetic disorders. Turning the apparent scourge that is the HIV virus into a savior...remarkable! But, potentially controversial as is all genetic modifications. The crux of the controversy is one of wisdom rather than of ability. Whether that genetic modification is to an ear of corn, to a tomato, for a new breed of dog, to livestock or to disease cure for a person, the wisdom of it sparks debate. Usually, in such debates when one states we don't know the wisdom of it, what we are really saying is that we don't know what we don't know--the risks and the unintended or collateral effects--which have yet to manifest, to be appreciated in terms of downstream benefit and harm and, thereby, to be fully assessed in terms of value to mankind. Genetic modification is not new. Humans have been genetically modifying every plant and animal we have domesticated since the dawn of civilization. What has changed is the pace of that modification. We no longer have to depend on generations of the reproductive life cycles of such organisms to breed a more drought-tolerant ear of corn, a more pest-resistant tomato, or a different breed of dog, we can now do it seemly overnight. https://ift.tt/1VMjaZw
from Rajesh Harrykissoon, MD

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