A while ago I blogged about thinking of genomics in terms of things beginning with "M". Memory was in there...so was machine...so was "mastery". The above link is to a lecture given at Edinburgh University by Professors Siddharthan Chandran and Charles ffrench-Constant on Tuesday 9 November 2010.
These guys have just hit the news in a big way. Using the same kind of adult pluriopotent stem cells that gave us Dolly the Sheep - (that was breast tissue used to create a whole clone...breast...Dolly...Dolly Parton...breast...get it? Scientists are such BOYS!!!) - but, HUMAN adult pluripotent stem cells derived from human skin...and they've made human brain cells. Yup. Brain cells.
The medical potential of regenerating healthy brain tissue is literally mind blowing...many of the most devastating brain disorders from stroke injury to motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis are based on damage to particular cell locations or cell types. This technology could be targeted to address these problems with only the most minor surgery. The same is of course true of every other organ, muscle...
Now...they haven't made a brain, Dr Frankenstein...yet...But we do have to add an M to our list. "Miracle." Honest.
Check out the lecture above.
Meanwhile, on the "memory" front, news from Australia that it took 24 million generations for something the size of a mouse (which was the size of the common ancestors of all today's mammals before the dinosaurs pegged out) to evolve into something the size of an elephant...once the dinos were out of the way. This is being published in the Proceedings of the National Academy in the US...and when there's a link available I'll paste it.
And mastery...or destiny, anyway...research in Glasgow describing the epigenetic poverty trap. Apparently the level of methylation of DNA in poor people means that poverty really does kill you, your children and your children's children.
Put all this together - all these things beginning with M - and what do you get? No. I'm really asking.
Peter Arnott is Resident Playwright at the Traverse Theatre Edinburgh, Peter will be hosting a number of public engagements as he explores ideas and seeks inspiration for a genomics related play.