Mankind is on its way to a new era called redesigning and reprogramming human genes and cells to treat diseases that until recently were impossible for medicine and medicine.
We all have smart applications in our cell phones, but what if we had real applications in our cells instead of on our phones?
This is exactly what bio-engineer Laura Segatori and her scientific team at the Brown School of Engineering at Rice University are trying to achieve, as she received a $ 1.8 billion grant from the National Institute of Health Research to develop smart sensors that is dedicated to genetic activity in our blood cells, which will provide unprecedented opportunities for the treatment of diabetes and cancer.As well as infectious and genetic diseases, according to a report recently published on the university’s platform.
Reprogramming of human cells
The idea is to reprogram human cells to read their environment, and then develop living intracellular systems (smart applications) that are capable of detecting and treating human diseases.
“We are not alone in this field, but we expect our approach to change the way we think about how biosensors are designed, as these devices currently rely primarily on the ability to observe the cell surface from the outside through external cell surface receptors. “What we are trying to do is transform signals that enable cells to translate the stimulation that takes place outside the cells into a program that can repair the imbalance within those cells.”
In the Seggatori model, artificial biological circuits are designed to function within cells and respond quickly to changes in gene activity, which is new and unique that Seguatori and her team are trying to achieve.
Let us remember that the genes are responsible for the structure of the body and its organs, growth and puberty, and the formation of various proteins and enzymes with multiple functions. There are 22,500 genes, and they are spread on 46 chromosomes in humans . , and their total makes up the DNA.
“We want to develop a new class of cellular sensors that will activate the biomolecular program within genes to detect their physiological state by monitoring the chromosomes of these genes,” Segatore explained.
Important cellular devices
For example, we can imagine the development of vital cellular devices that activate as soon as they receive a nerve signal about a defect within the cell, and move to treat the defect immediately.
“The ability of this new system to respond immediately to danger, and above all its ability to stop itself quickly once the danger is gone, is key,” Segatore explained.
She added, “Biological cells that are currently being manipulated usually do not have control over reaction time, or the ability to stop working immediately after the danger is over, and this often leads to a miscalculation of treatment time, or to the appropriate giving doses of the drug at the right time, and this is a significant difference.The dose of the drug may be the problem, but if we can make smart cells that sense your body’s need for treatments, and only the release of the drug instituted accordingly, it will be really useful for the treatment of many diseases with speed and accuracy which were not previously available. “
Smart cells + no editing = a medical revolution
If we add this new technology that Segatore and her team are trying to achieve to the technology of “genome editing”, which makes it possible to change the structure of DNA to remove or add new sequences, we will have a great see revolution in genetic engineering, which means the elimination of many genetic diseases or hitherto incurable.
Professor Jennifer Doudna at the University of Berkeley, and Emmanuel Carpenter, founder and managing director of the Max Planck Unit for Pathogenesis in Berlin, won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their innovative research on gene editing, or what became known in the scientific community as CRISPR-Cas9 technology. (CRISPR-Cas9), where this technology enables researchers to alter the DNA sequence and thus alter the function of genes, as mentioned by the IOL platform in a recent report.
The origin of CRISPR-Cas technology is the natural defense mechanism by which bacteria and unicellular organisms defend themselves against invading viruses. When the bacterial immune system is threatened, the CRISPR-Cas system produces a chemical signal that releases an enzyme that destroys the DNA of the foreign invader, and when CRISPR technology is used in more complex organisms, it allows no manipulation or “no editing”. ” then. which does not change the encoded messages and instructions.
The report said that the most exciting use of CRISPR technology is to modify the human genome to correct genetic defects, thus not only treating many genetic diseases but also preventing them. This technology can be used effectively to correct genetic defects that cause human diseases such as cystic fibrosis, cataracts, Fanconi anemia, a rare disease of the bone marrow, as well as to prevent cardiomyopathy and Huntington’s disease (the breakdown of nerve cells in the brain). to treat. , and certain mutations associated with breast and ovarian cancer, and even scientists have shown that CRISPR technology can eliminate HIV infection (TIDS) from T cells, and treat them permanently from the virus.
It is clear that mankind is heading for a new era called redesign and reprogramming of human genes and cells to treat diseases that until recently were impossible for medicine and medicine.