2. Rev. Demetrios Demopulos (Ph.D. in genetics) is the parish priest of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church and teaches at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Brookline, MA. 978-342-1216 or 978-342-9015.
An obvious application of the Human Genome Project is the treatment of genetic disorders through gene therapy. If a functional gene can be introduced into the appropriate cell type and that gene can be expressed in a normal manner, countless people could hope for relief from their genetic diseases. The report about to be published in Science seems to be an important first step in overcoming the technical obstacles to gene therapy. Using mouse models for sickle cell, the team has been able to introduce a functional globin gene into stem cells and express the gene so that the symptoms of sickle cell were eliminated. The red blood cells did not sickle, and the resulting cascade of problems was not present.
As a priest who ministers to an ethnic group in which globin-gene disorders are common, I find the results of these experiments heartening. This could be the first step in effectively treating a debilitating and sometimes fatal disease. As a geneticist, I am also encouraged that techniques have been found that allow incorporation and expression of such a large gene in target cells. I do,
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