Feb 16, 2017

In a possible step forward for gene therapy, researchers made mice glow like fireflies

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

The old joke in the US Natl. Labs is if you worked at ORNL, you glowed at night. Looks like DARPA has found a safer way to do it.

Timothy Blake, a postdoctoral fellow in the Waymouth lab, was hard at work on a fantastical interdisciplinary experiment. He and his fellow researchers were refining compounds that would carry instructions for assembling the protein that makes fireflies light up and deliver them into the cells of an anesthetized mouse. If their technique worked, the mouse would glow in the dark.

Not only did the mouse glow, but it also later woke up and ran around, completely unaware of the complex series of events that had just taken place within its body. Blake said it was the most exciting day of his life.

This success, the topic of a recent paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could mark a significant step forward for . It’s hard enough getting these instructions, called messenger RNA (mRNA), physically into a cell. It’s another hurdle altogether for the cell to actually use them to make a protein. If the technique works in people, it could provide a new way of inserting therapeutic proteins into diseased cells.

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