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Designer DNA

April 4, 2018

Bits of DNA may prevent neurons from producing a disease-causing protein.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Designer DNA. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

When a protein called tau accumulates in the brain, it can lead to Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders. UC San Diego neuroscientist Don Cleveland discovered the tau protein, and now is working to render it harmless using bits of targeted DNA that can be injected into the cerebral fluid that bathes the brain. At a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Cleveland said the snippets are designed to prevent the tau gene from producing the protein that causes illness.

DON CLEVELAND (UC San Diego):

What we are doing is turning down or turning off the target gene, and we can do so broadly in the nervous system.

HIRSHON:

This “designer DNA” therapy is now undergoing clinical trials for treatment of Alzheimers and might eventually be used to treat other neurological diseases by silencing the genes responsible. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon