Mar 16, 2010
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So in one of my bio classes we talked about how the strawberries we buy at the grocery store have been trans-genetically modified with the DNA of an arctic fish so that they can more easily survive the frost. We discussed many more examples but these seemed to be one of the more widely used ones and interesting because it was mixing plant and animal DNA.

Has anyone found cancer research involving this? If so I would enjoy hearing about/getting book suggestions on the topic.
 

combatwombat

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Has anyone found cancer research involving this?
In what respect? The only way I can imagine cancer research and genetic engineering intersecting is in making plants to produce cancer drugs that would otherwise be difficult to synthesize.

For the most part I think the 2 fields are separate
 
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In what respect? The only way I can imagine cancer research and genetic engineering intersecting is in making plants to produce cancer drugs that would otherwise be difficult to synthesize.

For the most part I think the 2 fields are separate
Well the arctic fish had genetic properties that made it resistant to cold, which is why that gene is useful to strawberry farmers.

There are several species of animals that do not get cancer, couldn't we mix some of their DNA with ours (after doing tests on other animals first of course) to try and give us some resistance?
 

Kickback

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Well the arctic fish had genetic properties that made it resistant to cold, which is why that gene is useful to strawberry farmers.

There are several species of animals that do not get cancer, couldn't we mix some of their DNA with ours (after doing tests on other animals first of course) to try and give us some resistance?
1. Cancer is just a general term for diseases where a group of cells have rapid, unrestricted growth/division. There are lots of different mechanisms.

2. This is called gene therapy. Look up how difficult this is to accomplish in humans. You don't just "mix some of their DNA with ours" like mixing ingredients for a cake.
 

Dial71

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There are entire classes devoted to genetic technologies like the ones you are describing.

Take the following with a grain of salt, for I am a chemistry major. From what I understand, DNA hybridization is often used to investigate gene function. For instance, if a gene is inserted into a mutant organism and the organism regains its orginal wild-type, then the functioning of the gene can be ascertained.

This technique and others help researchers understand the function of many genes, including those that function in cancer.
 

johncalvin

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There are entire classes devoted to genetic technologies like the ones you are describing.

Take the following with a grain of salt, for I am a chemistry major. From what I understand, DNA hybridization is often used to investigate gene function. For instance, if a gene is inserted into a mutant organism and the organism regains its orginal wild-type, then the functioning of the gene can be ascertained.

This technique and others help researchers understand the function of many genes, including those that function in cancer.
The term "DNA hybridization" is actually a diagnostic technique...I think you may be referring to transgenetics...
 

Dial71

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The term "DNA hybridization" is actually a diagnostic technique...I think you may be referring to transgenetics...
Genetic recombination, then? Like I said, genetics is not my expertise.
 
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1. Cancer is just a general term for diseases where a group of cells have rapid, unrestricted growth/division. There are lots of different mechanisms.

2. This is called gene therapy. Look up how difficult this is to accomplish in humans. You don't just "mix some of their DNA with ours" like mixing ingredients for a cake.
I am aware of what cancer is, but there is a reason why some animals do not get it, and that reason is in their DNA. Everything in scientific research is difficult.
 
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Like this?

There's a new journal devoted to it too.

There's also a lot of transgenic models of cancer as well.

Excellent link! Thank you Kami =) I think it will take me quite a while to read through everything on this site, which is sweet.
 

dingyibvs

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DNA computing would be more suitable IMO. I think most research have thus far have been focused on making faster computers with DNA, but medical researchers need to pick up the slack and investigate the other end of the spectrum--how to make specialized DNA segments using engineering philosophies and make tiny automatic drug dispensers in our own bloodstream!
 
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Entire class? My major is genetic engineering!
Where do you go to school at? What does the major consist of? Is it a grad or undergrad program and how do you/your professors feel the cancer front looks at this point?
 
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DNA computing would be more suitable IMO. I think most research have thus far have been focused on making faster computers with DNA, but medical researchers need to pick up the slack and investigate the other end of the spectrum--how to make specialized DNA segments using engineering philosophies and make tiny automatic drug dispensers in our own bloodstream!
I don't follow... What?
 

dingyibvs

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I don't follow... What?
Basically, I think DNA computing is probably better suited for something like cancer. It draws from a parallel between DNA and computers. In DNA, data can take on 4 different values(A T G C) and are read 3 at a time(a codon). In computers, data can take on 2 different values(1 or 0) and are read usually 8 at a time(a byte).

Right now, computers essentially process data in a serial fashion, one byte, then the next byte and so on and so forth. But DNA, as we know, can be read at different places at the same time, and multiple DNA strands can be read at the same time. So instead of processing data one byte or codon at a time, with computers constructed with DNA, they can process data of millions of bytes or codons at once.

Conversely, if we can construct a program as complicated as say Windows with just 1's and 0's, we should theoretically also be able to construct DNA strands that are programmed to do certain things. For example, for someone with type 1 diabetes, we can construct a DNA "robot" that detects glucose levels in a person and produce insulin accordingly. So it's basically an adaptive drug, something that can combat adaptive viruses(like HIV) or maybe even malignant tumors in the future!
 

Charles_Carmichael

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I am aware of what cancer is, but there is a reason why some animals do not get it, and that reason is in their DNA. Everything in scientific research is difficult.
No.

Cancer, at its heart, is a genetic disease. It's because DNA can be mutated that cancer occurs. That's not the reason why some animals "don't get it." There a lot of factors involved (ie. lifespan, number of cellular proliferations, exposure to mutagens, etc.) that can contribute to some animals not having widespread cancer, not some magical anti-cancer gene.

There's a good bit of research out there where you arm viruses that have a preference for tumor cells (ie. vaccinia, myxoma, etc.) with genes that prevent growth, metastasis, etc. For example, I recently gave a presentation on arming oncolytic vaccinia viruses with VEGFR1 to target angiogenesis in renal cancer. So the virus gets incorporated in tumor DNA and the antiangiogenic molecule is expressed, inhibiting angiogenesis; at the same time, the virus replicates rapidly and lyses tumor cells. It's pretty cool stuff. I suggest you read up on review articles on PubMed if you're really interested before jumping into primary literature.
 
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rHinO1

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There are entire classes devoted to genetic technologies like the ones you are describing.

Take the following with a grain of salt, for I am a chemistry major. From what I understand, DNA hybridization is often used to investigate gene function. For instance, if a gene is inserted into a mutant organism and the organism regains its orginal wild-type, then the functioning of the gene can be ascertained.

This technique and others help researchers understand the function of many genes, including those that function in cancer.
The term "DNA hybridization" is actually a diagnostic technique...I think you may be referring to transgenetics...

Genetic recombination, then? Like I said, genetics is not my expertise.
This test/experiment is called functional complementation.
 

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Does that mean strawberry's now come with fish oil and more protein?
 
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No.

Cancer, at its heart, is a genetic disease. It's because DNA can be mutated that cancer occurs. That's not the reason why some animals "don't get it." There a lot of factors involved (ie. lifespan, number of cellular proliferations, exposure to mutagens, etc.) that can contribute to some animals not having widespread cancer, not some magical anti-cancer gene.

There's a good bit of research out there where you arm viruses that have a preference for tumor cells (ie. vaccinia, myxoma, etc.) with genes that prevent growth, metastasis, etc. For example, I recently gave a presentation on arming oncolytic vaccinia viruses with VEGFR1 to target angiogenesis in renal cancer. So the virus gets incorporated in tumor DNA and the antiangiogenic molecule is expressed, inhibiting angiogenesis; at the same time, the virus replicates rapidly and lyses tumor cells. It's pretty cool stuff. I suggest you read up on review articles on PubMed if you're really interested before jumping into primary literature.

Transgenetic cancer research is plausible and worth looking into I believe. Nothing in science is simple, but it seems as if there is already significant research and headway on this. There is more than one way to research for the treatment of cancer, I would not dismiss all other ideas so quickly.
 

combatwombat

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There are several species of animals that do not get cancer, couldn't we mix some of their DNA with ours (after doing tests on other animals first of course) to try and give us some resistance?
We will have flying cars before we can do this. Genetically engineering a plant to produce an anti-cancer protein that can be used in humans is one thing; but doing genetic engineering on a human being is entirely different. There are ethical as well as technical problems, as nobody is 100% sure what will happen in the long-term when you start messing with genes.

And it's never as simple as just "mixing DNA" between species. The species that don't get cancer may be this way due to lack of genes that we have, rather than the other way around as you assume.

Also, for genetic engineering, you need a vector to transfer the genetic sequences. The tissues that vector can target, how it inserts the DNA, and what other things it does in the body are hugely important. For instance, an engineered retrovirus was once used to insert a gene into a few patients with immunodeficiency. While it was somewhat successful in treating the immunodeficiency, in some of the patients it happened to insert the therapeutic gene inside another gene that was important in cell division, causing leukemia.

Anyways if you're interested here's a short article that sums up what has been done so far in terms of genetic engineering in people: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_genetic_engineering
 
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We will have flying cars before we can do this. Genetically engineering a plant to produce an anti-cancer protein that can be used in humans is one thing; but doing genetic engineering on a human being is entirely different. There are ethical as well as technical problems, as nobody is 100% sure what will happen in the long-term when you start messing with genes.

And it's never as simple as just "mixing DNA" between species. The species that don't get cancer may be this way due to lack of genes that we have, rather than the other way around as you assume.

Also, for genetic engineering, you need a vector to transfer the genetic sequences. The tissues that vector can target, how it inserts the DNA, and what other things it does in the body are hugely important. For instance, an engineered retrovirus was once used to insert a gene into a few patients with immunodeficiency. While it was somewhat successful in treating the immunodeficiency, in some of the patients it happened to insert the therapeutic gene inside another gene that was important in cell division, causing leukemia.

Anyways if you're interested here's a short article that sums up what has been done so far in terms of genetic engineering in people: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_genetic_engineering

These are very good points. I think that you are correct! That does sound a lot more complex that what I knew. You explained it excellently, thank you.
 

johncalvin

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Where do you go to school at? What does the major consist of? Is it a grad or undergrad program and how do you/your professors feel the cancer front looks at this point?
It's an undergrad major, and my professors couldn't give a damn about medical biotechnology. They're mostly concerned with agricultural biotechnology, genetically modified plants and animals.

Having said all this, biotechnology is a pretty weak field if you think about it. For example, almost all foreign genes into plants are introduced using Agrobacterium tumafaciens. I mean ALL. Gene cloning?--find E. coli, etc. etc.

To be fair, if you're not using natural biological mechanisms, it wouldn't be called biotechnology...but the scope of medical biotech (particularly gene therapy)--while promising in theory--is actually pretty limited with our current state of knowledge. It's worked in certain cases and produced drugs like Ataluren, but they will be rare in the immediate future.