From Antibiotics to Antisense!

Things are progressing pretty fast in medicine.  Where we once were stuck using a bit of the illness to protect ourselves from a killer case of the same illness, we  then  moved to a system where we used antibiotics to protect ourselves and our livestock from illnesses and now we are standing at a brave new threshold where we use our genes to tinker with health scares.

You’ve all probably heard that antibiotics are so overused that they have begun to become worthless in the fight against invading viruses.  That is true because viruses have the unique ability to adapt to changes in their hosts.  If we make it tough for them to live because we are attacking them from within then they will keep growing new types that are able to live within the toxic environments we are creating.

Back in the late 90’s some scientists in England found that they could manipulate RNA in plants to stop or silence cellular changes.  That process ultimately has been improved so that scientists are now using something called siRNA or a “silencing RNA” or an interrupting RNA to signal that a virus stops replicating and just dies!  This would protect us from dangerous viruses.  It actually has been tested in primates who were exposed to the Ebola virus.

Our Defense agencies are very interested in this technology!  As a matter of fact we are spending millions of dollars on this kind of research.  Of course it won’t be for regular old folks like you and me at first.  No, it will be used to protect our troops against biological weapons.

The only problem with this high tech tinkering with RNA is that there is now a new type of “infection”.   It’s not an infection it’s a “transfection”.  You see, unless the siRNA is directly targeted it can sort of go wherever it feels like going.  I bet you can see how that might be a problem.  What could happen if the siRNA found a happy life in a human is a serious case of toxicity for the poor human, or primate!  But then we’d be allergic to ourselves.  Our bodies could engage in massive strikes against an invader that we’ve got inside of us that we can’t easily remove.

Now get  back to your regularly scheduled lives 🙂





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