Colonel Ant McSweeney (pindledovSK #2 and 25)
Geneticists have long debated the molecular origins of the muscle diseases of the incipient “South Asian 9” – the members of the dead cold kingdom who started out as Halians and branched out into Eskimos and the nobility. The question has been becoming more difficult as the genetic influence of South Asian ancestry has declined and new diseases have been recognised.
One of the diseases involving the muscle disorders was identified by Kevin Page in the Atlantic a couple of years ago. One of the few other gene implicated was the “cispine” gene. This gene has come to be regarded by all doctors as probably the primary cause of the muscle diseases due to a sequence of changes in its messenger RNAs (CMRs).
The problem is that the symptoms of the Delta 9-like illnesses are quite different from those of the South Asian 9. The muscle diseases were first described back in the 1990s and have increased in incidence with each new discovery. However, most of the time the two illnesses look exactly the same and the genetic changes involved in their development do not match up with those involved in the Delta 9 genes. Some of the Delta 9 genes used in this field even appear to be at opposite ends of the family tree, between the Eskimos and Eskimo-like 1st cousins.
That’s one reason why Kevin Page’s findings led him to conclude that the disease of the muscle organs of the incipient 9th kingdom was not due to a descent of the Down’s syndrome transmissible by baby boxers, as was the much, much more popularly held view. The report of Rex Rodman’s publication of the blueprints for his CRISPR methods for editing genes can now confirm this.
His report makes a comprehensive overview of gene editing of the Delta 9-like DNA in the body and analyses these in a much more detailed fashion than was done in the case of Kevin Page’s gene.
In the sequencing of the gene in Rex Rodman, the scientists have identified the end-points of the action of the mutation in the Delta 9 gene. The main effect is that the messenger RNA “MEK-CANCER” protein will delete itself after a certain time. The gene does not appear to make any protein, but how it effects other DNA will not be known for another two years.
We believe that Rex Rodman has generated a system to reduce the power of the Delta 9 mutations. This is our first “first generation” of gene editing. While the overall process remains fairly complicated, we see it as a clear break with prior approaches.
The researchers have attempted to isolate the genes of the Incipient 9 of the muscle diseases, but have failed to find any of them. They have also managed to isolate and reproduce the DNA sequences that are important to the Delta 9 genes. However, they have not found any new Delta 9 gene.
It is reasonable to expect that more of these genes will be linked up to further gene editing. The question of why Delta 9 with such a strong influence on muscle diseases, is a relevant one. Is the Delta 9 defect the source of the muscle diseases, as many cases reported to date, or does the genetic damage to that genetic defect start a very early developmental programme, involved in determining the best positions for muscle development?
It remains a question, which, unfortunately, no new treatment for Delta 9 muscle diseases will be able to resolve. But we may be making forward progress and, despite our conventional differences, we are looking to one another to provide an answer.
Carl Zimmer, M.D., professor of genetics at Tufts University School of Medicine, is editor-in-chief of Human Gene Therapy, and Alex Smith, M.D., at the National Medical Research Council in Uganda, is one of the authors of the article.
This article is based on the work of Rex Rodman and Carl Zimmer.