Scientists alter genetic code to cure hereditary disease

June 27th, 2011 - 8:28 pm ICT by IANS  

London, June 27 (IANS) Scientists have altered the genetic code to cure a hereditary condition like haemophilia, which impairs our ability to control blood clotting or coagulation.

They managed to persuade cells in mice to repair a faulty gene but, instead of recreating the flawed piece, the cells generated a healthy one.

“Genetic editing” works by using enzymes to unlock the DNA. A new gene could then be inserted in the right place and the DNA made to reform around it. Up to a third of genetic diseases are caused by a single faulty gene.

The faulty gene was the one responsible for haemophilia, meaning that the process cured the mouse of the hereditary condition, which can be life-threatening in humans, reports the journal Nature.

The scientists hope the discovery could help develop better treatments for conditions affecting the immune system, bone marrow and liver, according to the Telegraph.

Katherine High, who led the research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the US, now plans to test the treatment on larger animals. The process will not be used in human trials for around a decade.

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