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Get it off me!!!! AAggghhh, what the fuck!?!!?

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By Keith Mulvihill


NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Scientists have successfully inserted a foreign gene into the DNA of mice that was later incorporated into growing hair shafts.


"This will allow us to search for genes that will give a cosmetic benefit as well as potential therapeutic benefits when inserted into the hair follicle," said the study's lead author Dr. Robert M. Hoffman of AntiCancer Inc., a San Diego, California-based biotechnology company.


While the green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene, which comes from jellyfish, has no medical significance, the main goal was to determine if the researchers could make transgenic mouse hair.


The mouse genome did indeed take up the GFP gene, researchers report in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Hoffman and his colleagues began by inserting GFP into an inactivated virus. Then they removed small bits of skin from mice and treated their skin with the enzyme collagenase. The collagenase made the hair follicles in the skin accessible to the virus, which was used to "micro-inject" the DNA containing the GFP gene, Hoffman explained.


"This allowed the efficient transfer of the GFP gene to the hair follicles," he said. The treated fragments of skin were then transplanted onto other mice.


"The gene-modified hair follicles then produced modified hair shafts, which were easily detected by GFP fluorescence," Hoffman said.


Roughly 75% of the mice hair follicles contained the new gene, the report indicates.


With regard to cosmetic implications, Hoffman noted that patients undergoing hair transplants, where skin fragments could be treated in a similar fashion as in the mouse experiment, could use this technology. This would require that the researchers discover genes that confer cosmetic benefits, he pointed out.


In addition, the hair follicle "could also be used as a 'factory' to produce therapeutic products as well," Hoffman said.


The therapeutic gene could be chosen depending on the disease one wishes to treat. The hair follicle could express this gene and produce the therapeutic product, he noted.


"It must be emphasized that this early technology is now appropriate only in animal experiments and not for use in humans. We will exploit this technology to discover useful cosmetic and therapeutic genes that can be transferred in this manner or perhaps modifying the technology to transfer the genes directly without removal of the skin," Hoffman told Reuters Health.


"It also must be emphasized that any type of gene transfer in humans will be very carefully scrutinized by the FDA before approval," he added.


"It is difficult to speculate when such technology would be applicable to human trials," Hoffman stated. "A guess would be in the order of 5 years."


SOURCE: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2002;10.1073/pnas.192453799.









I don't think that I can sleep well at night anymore, knowing that these things could be at large.

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