One of the most promising areas of medical research from the point of view of an aging population is that of DNA manipulation.
One particular technique called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT).
This procedure involves taking the out the nucleus of an egg cell, and placing next to it in the envelope surrounding it the somatic (body) cell to be created. An electrical cell is then sent through the cell to break the boundary between the nucleus and somatic and thus fool the egg into thinking it has been fetilised. Once this happens the cell starts to divide in the normal way.
This method can be used to create increasingly complex body parts, and even organs.
Because it uses the DNA material of the patient, these replacements do not get rejected by the body. Hence the patient does not need to take immune suppressant drugs to combat organ doner rejection.
It also has the advantage that doner organ shortages become a thing of the past.
Some examples of uses of this DNA technology are as follows:
Here cloned dopamine cells can be fed back into the brain, thus relieving the symptoms of this highly distressing disease.
Diabetes (Type 1):
Clones insulin producing B-cells can be created for the pancreas, to assist in the natural production of insulin.
Here a patients immune system can be regenerated through cloned cells.
Another interesting finding is that even if cells are cloned from original cells which have reached the end of their natural life, the cloned cell seems to go back to the beginning and starts its life all over again.
This is certainly one of the most exciting areas of DNA medical technology which is here right now, and advancing all the time.
Robert Lanza, MD,
Aging, Biotechnology & The Future,
Eds. C. Y. Read, R. C. Green & M. A. Singer,
2008, John Hopkins University Press, USA.
© David R. Durham