Monday, November 12, 2007


A University College London scientist has led research to establish a database that could help other scientists identify which proteins to target when developing treatments for neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease. The database maps all of the genes operating in one section of the brain, and their ‘expression’ – the process of converting the genetic information encoded in DNA into a final gene product.
“The database resulting from this research has been made public and will allow researchers, when they find genetic risk factors for a disease, to refer to it and see whether the risk factor increases the amount of protein that the gene makes. In principle, though we are not there yet, this will allow researchers to take a blood sample from anyone and, from looking at their DNA sequence, know how much of every protein they make in their brain and what they might be more pre-disposed to in terms of neurological disease. This could help us understand the biological mechanisms at work, but could also be hugely useful in developing drugs to target those proteins and their associated diseases.”

Professor Hardy recently brought his pioneering neurological work back from the US to the UCL Institute of Neurology, Queen’s Square. He will be continuing the work detailed in this paper at the Institute. He said: “As we only looked at one area of the brain, the next logical step would be to perform the same process in a complete brain. It would be fantastic if it could eventually be done for the whole body – giving you an atlas of the human body in terms of gene expression. That would be an invaluable tool for scientists.”

And for pharmaceutical and bioengineering companies wanting to market "solutions" to deviant behavior that can be tracked back to the neurochemicals and brain structures which these genes express. As sold to legislators desperate for "remedies" cheaper than prison beds and reassured by the former college cheerleaders and beauty queens who will be experts on the topics.

Does it scare you to think that someday these might be considered "the good old days"?

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