- WASHINGTON (AFP) - U.S. researchers using genetic engineering have turned
albino mice black, giving hope to sufferers of hereditary diseases caused
by genetic mutation, the review Nature Biotechnology reported in its latest
edition out Monday.
- The research team led by Kyonggeun Yoon
at Philadelphia's Thomas Jefferson University succeeded in turning several
all-white mice black by an experimental "gene repair" technique
that fixes a genetic mutation, the review reported.
- The technique corrects a single alteration,
or mutation, in a gene responsible for skin color in mice.
- The defective gene failed to produce
an enzyme involved in making melanin, the agent which changes the colour
- "Melanin-producing cells become
normal, changing albino to black," said Yoon. "Once the mutation
is corrected, it takes five or six days for the entire biochemical process
to begin producing melanin."
- Researchers established that the gene
correction was permanent and inheritable.
- The work holds promise for some sufferers
of hereditary diseases caused by genetic mutation, Nature Biotechnology
- The technique was developed several years
ago and centers on directing the body's natural system of DNA repair through
a mechanism that finds anomalies in DNA and fixes them.
- Yoon's team said the gene-repair technique
has yet to be perfected.
- "Skin is an ideal organ on which
to test this technology since it is accessible and can be monitored,"
said Yoon, but "much more research is needed to improve the design
and make this technology generally applicable."