Can Human Body Fix its Genetic Defects
Back in the mid-1800s an Austrian monk declared that genes are passed on from generation to another and thus the work of Gregor Mendel lead to Mendelian genetics as a discipline. The world has not been the same since that date as we blamed everything on our genes, from the color of eyes to our morality. If I were defending Michael Jackson, I will invoke a Mendelian cover; people do end up with aberrant genes. Many years ago, I wrote much on aberrant genes that would explain why man destroys himself in endless pursuits. Fact is that genetic mutations are inevitable, or at least, that is how we had come to accept for the past 150 years, until the morning of 24th March, 2005 when the highly revered Nature magazine published (online) a report from Purdue University. In the Purdue experiment, researchers found that a plant belonging to the mustard and watercress family sometimes corrects the genetic code it inherited from its flawed parents and grows normally like its unflawed grandparents and other ancestors. Scientists said the discovery raises questions of whether humans also have the potential for avoiding genetic flaws or even repairing them, although the plant experiments did not directly address the possibility in higher organisms. They said the actual proteins responsible for making these fixes probably would be different in animals, if the capacity exists at all. The conclusion by Purdue University molecular biologists contradicts at least some basic rules of plant evolution. “This means that inheritance can happen more flexibly than we thought,” said Robert Pruitt, the paper's senior author. The Purdue experiments were conducted on Arabidopsis thaliana, a member of the watercress and mustard family that is commonly grown in the lab, but is not planted commercially. Researchers found that in 10 percent of Arabidopsis thaliana plants with two copies of a mutant gene called ``hothead'' didn't always blossom with deformed flowers like their parents, which carried the mutant genes. Instead, those plants had normal white flowers like their grandparents, which didn't carry the hothead gene. So the deformity appeared only for a single, previous generation.
The scientists believe the plants with hothead genes appear to have kept a copy of the genetic coding from the grandparent plants and used it as a template to grow normally, perhaps when living conditions are not ideal.
However, Pruitt's team didn't find the template in the plants' DNA or chromosomes where genetic information is stored and they did not determine whether a particular gene is encoded to carry out the recovery of the normal DNA. Finding where the normal genetic template is stored and determining how it is triggered will take additional research and probably involve more genes, Pruitt said. Humans and other animals do not carry the hothead gene, so if this process occurs in higher organisms it must use a different trigger, he said. Some scientists described the result as “spectacular” because it reveals a novel way in which the genome can heal itself. Detlef Weigel and Gerds Jurgen of the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Germany wrote in an accompanying commentary in Nature that the mechanism for recovering the normal DNA in the plants might be lurking in the plant's RNA, which carries out genetic orders in cells, but is less stable than DNA.
What the above scientific discussion leads us to is a very real possibility that somewhere in our mRNA there is a copy of our genetic code that is flawless; if only this could be triggered when body figures that something wrong, something that is stressing the body systems like a cancerous cell, a hyper immune response producing diabetes, multiple sclerosis etc. It will then be possible for the body to instantly trigger a correction, fixing the genetic defect and as a result the disease. Sounds far-fetched? If it does then read history.
Can Human Body Fix its Genetic Defects