Genetics in the near future - • genes are composed of DNA...

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Genetics in the near future One benefit of identifying a genetic disease gene is the potential to offer "gene therapy" - the replacement of the defective gene with a new, functional copy. This is by no means an easy procedure and as yet there have been few successes. However, in the next ten years we will see big advances in our abilities to treat some of the common genetic diseases such as Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy by gene therapy. Gene therapy is also being considered as an approach to fighting cancers and even HIV infection. A newt can regrow an amputated limb. It would be convenient if humans could also regenerate damaged or missing tissues and organs. The "cloning" of 'Dolly' the sheep from one single cell of adult breast tissue has brought this exciting possibility one step nearer. Cell Division We begin with consideration of the mechanics of gene inheritance. You should already be aware that:
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Unformatted text preview: • genes are composed of DNA, • DNA is present as very long molecules, • the long DNA molecules are complexed with proteins and coiled and folded into a structure known as a chromosome • the cell has a fairly simple method of ensuring the proper inheritance of its DNA (and hence genes) when it splits into two daughter cells. An excellent (though slightly out of date) external web site to visit for a description of the basic molecular genetics is The US Department of Energy's Primer of Molecular Genetics . (The Department of Energy is a big mover in the Genome World.) It takes many cell divisions to make a person from a single celled egg. In each of those divisions all the genes must be replicated and passed to each daughter cell. For the remainder of this lecture we will concentrate on the process of cell division mitosis and on the structures known as chromosomes ....
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