Tuesday, November 13, 2012

transgender switch - so far away

I decided to search for this topic again (the famed Dmrt1gene that keeps males... men).  Here's another clear article:

"This discovery is a breakthrough for genetic researchers and may have implications for transgender and intersex individuals.
This work shows that sex determination in mammals can be surprisingly prone to change and must be actively maintained throughout an organism's lifetime,"

However, not only is this still early research on rats, gene therapy in general is not without it's drawbacks, as discussed on the wikipedia page:

  • Short-lived nature of gene therapy – Before gene therapy can become a permanent cure for any condition, the therapeutic DNA introduced into target cells must remain functional and the cells containing the therapeutic DNA must be long-lived and stable. Problems with integrating therapeutic DNA into the genome and the rapidly dividing nature of many cells prevent gene therapy from achieving any long-term benefits. Patients will have to undergo multiple rounds of gene therapy.
  • Immune response – Anytime a foreign object is introduced into human tissues, the immune system has evolved to attack the invader. The risk of stimulating the immune system in a way that reduces gene therapy effectiveness is always a possibility. Furthermore, the immune system's enhanced response to invaders that it has seen before makes it difficult for gene therapy to be repeated in patients.
  • Problems with viral vectors – Viruses, the carrier of choice in most gene therapy studies, present a variety of potential problems to the patient: toxicity, immune and inflammatory responses, and gene control and targeting issues. In addition, there is always the fear that the viral vector, once inside the patient, may recover its ability to cause disease.
  • Multigene disorders – Conditions or disorders that arise from mutations in a single gene are the best candidates for gene therapy. Unfortunately, some of the most commonly occurring disorders, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, and diabetes, are caused by the combined effects of variations in many genes. Multigene or multifactorial disorders such as these would be especially difficult to treat effectively using gene therapy.
  • Chance of inducing a tumor (insertional mutagenesis) - If the DNA is integrated in the wrong place in the genome, for example in a tumor suppressor gene, it could induce a tumor. This has occurred in clinical trials for X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency (X-SCID) patients, in which hematopoietic stem cells were transduced with a corrective transgene using a retrovirus, and this led to the development of T cell leukemia in 3 of 20 patients.[52] One possible solution for this is to add a functional tumor suppressor gene onto the DNA to be integrated; however, this poses its own problems, since the longer the DNA is, the harder it is to integrate it efficiently into cell genomes.
In other words, unless your issue is life threatening (like cancer, or possibly parkinsons), you can probably forget about a sex change pill in your near future

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