That means that it's unlikely that stopping MS could be as simple as blocking the flow inside the vessels. It also suggests that there is probably no one treatment approach that will work for every neurological disorder. But the emerging importance of the vessels offers doctors an exciting new avenue for tackling neurological diseases. Through our collaboration with PureTech Health, we hope to bring these laboratory findings to improve patients' lives one day.
Race doesn’t come into it
Illustration: Researchers Jonathan Kipnis from left , Jasmin Herz and Antoine Louveau of the University of Virginia School of Medicine's Department of Neuroscience have determined that lymphatic vessels surrounding the brain play a critical role in multiple sclerosis. Targeting the vessels may offer a new way to treat the disease. Read more Newsletter Archives U. Separating Stem Cell Therapy Hope vs. Hype: More from Dr. Peter Rubin Dr. Two Authors. Two Journal Covers.
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Predictions about the future, of course, are nearly always wrong. And yet. Genies do not go back into bottles. Just a few weeks ago, researchers in China reported using CRISPR gene editing technology to repair Marfan syndrome in a viable human embryo, causing a flurry of anxious attention. Would the disease be corrected? Would unintended side-effects appear? If we could get this technology to work in humans, should we use it? It is a popular misconception about gene editing that changing one gene reliably produces a dramatically different outcome.
But most traits are not tied to a single gene. They appear as the result of an extremely complex interplay between multiple genes and the environment. To illustrate, Zimmer investigates height, a deceptively simple measurement:. There may be a core group of genes lurking in growth plates that take the lead in determining how tall we get.
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But some of those genes also have other jobs. They work with other genes in other kinds of cells … Thanks to the way these networks are organised, it may take only a few steps to go from any given gene to any other gene in the human genome. With all these connections, a mutation to a single gene can have wide-ranging effects. Zimmer points out that genome-wide association studies, which can now identify genetic variants that have an effect on a particular trait, have uncovered nearly two million variants involved in height.
That IQ scores are rising around the world, a well-documented phenomenon known as the Flynn effect, may speak more to a homogenisation of human culture and what we value under global capitalism than to genetic variants influencing some monolithic human trait we can call intelligence. But in a hundred years, we may have enough knowledge and technological knowhow for the rich to buy themselves designer babies, which is just one reason to consider the ethics of this technology, now. If tweaking the genome of a single human embryo is ethically fraught, introducing heritable changes into the human germline is even more controversial.
Race doesn’t come into it
In the last section of the book, Zimmer spends time with researchers who may have found a way to alter for good the DNA of transgenic mosquitoes in an attempt to wipe out their ability to transmit disease. All the mosquitoes in this lineage then carry these genes, which could potentially spread through a population and overpower other genes.
The implications are both promising and chilling — diseases could be wiped out, but using similar technology a few people could conceivably make choices that alter the genetic inheritance of the human species for ever. But this inheritance is not perfect — there are weak links. There is still work to be done and more, no doubt, to come. In fact siblings can share as much as per cent of their DNA — or slightly less, since even identical twins diverge owing to mutation, but as near as dammit. The way to put what Crist is saying is that the standard deviation in shared DNA between siblings is It would be pretty rare to have more DNA in common with a cousin than a sibling, but it does sometimes happen.
People who write about genetics almost always assume a readership devoid of monozygotes. It is indeed dangerous, but only to her mistaken view that there is no biological basis to human race. With the horrors of the Second World War freshly in mind, people went along with his proposition that race had no biological basis, and it gradually became dogma, particularly on the academic left.
Sociologists began to assert that race was just a social construct, not a biological one. On the left-leaning campuses of the United States, even geneticists came to learn that it was career suicide to suggest any connection between genetics and race. I was unaware of this political background until, in the course of writing about the human genome project for the New York Times , I noticed that geneticists would freeze when asked about any of the voluminous new findings about genetic differences between human populations. I found it preposterous that a small posse of obscurantist zealots had been able to stifle all academic discussion by branding anyone who disagreed with them a racist.
As for the danger of encouraging racists, the compelling evidence of the genome is that all humans have the same set of genes, and all are variations on the same theme, hardly the basis for asserting that anyone is superior to anyone else. So I wrote a book that explained the new findings and said that yes, duh, there is a biological basis to race. A multitude of geneticists signed a letter attacking the book but without specifying any errors in it.
Theirs was a political statement, not a scientific one.
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I did not expect my book to receive many rave reviews but have been surprised at the sheer dishonesty of the arguments deployed against it. These have taken three approaches. First, blanket assertions, as per Ms Crist, that the science in the book is deficient, though she cites no actual errors in evidence. Second, the charge that the book talks of distinct races and must therefore be racist , despite my statements that races cannot be distinct almost as a matter of definition.
Third, I am accused of saying that some races are genetically more intelligent than others, even though the book says clearly that IQ scores cannot reliably be compared across races. We are pleased to announce that we will be holding a full-day event on international philanthropy on April 12, Blumbergs' International…. An interesting little case in BC called Bodner Estate. Irene Bodna died and left about 8m to 24 different registered charities and…. Global News journalist Stewart Bell recently wrote an article "Government revokes charity status of Canadian Jewish group that supported….
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