Researchers Create Monkeys With “Glowing” Hands! Will This Cure Inherited Diseases Like Parkinson’s, MS And More?

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE: Is Vitamin D a wonder supplement?  Its role in increased athletic performance, cancer, lung function and mental agility…

Lauderdale The question is a difficult one.  Maybe one of the most difficult question of all and there are many differing opinions and opposing viewpoints.

So, what is the question?

Steve Connor, a science editor for The Independent, recently penned an article about how scientists have developed a technique to genetically modify monkeys so that future monkeys would retain the same genetic modification.

The premise being: if they can cure certain genetic diseases in monkeys, then scientists will be able to use the same or similar treatments to cure the same diseases in humans.

If this is possible, the scientists mentioned in the article believe they may be able to cure inherited (genetic) diseases such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s disease, cystic fibrosis, MS and more.

In a study published in the journal Nature, a team of scientists led by Erika Sasaki of the Central Institute of Experimental Animals in Kawasaki used Marmoset monkeys to perform their tests, mainly because humans and other primates are genetically similar.

The researchers introduced a jellyfish gene into the monkey’s embryos. Why a jellyfish gene?

The purpose of the experiment was not to “cure” anything.  It was simply to see if they could pass on new genes to the monkey’s offspring.  In other words, they wanted to see if they could change the genetic code for not only that monkey – but for all of that monkey’s descendents.

The jellyfish gene was used because it makes the…Monkey’s Hands Glow Green Under Fluorescent Light!

This made it easy for the scientists to know if they succeeded since all they had to do was shine a fluorescent light on the monkey’s hands.

Previously, scientists performed similar work and created a “transgenic” monkey with jellyfish genes in 2001.  The monkey’s name was Andi.  They encountered a problem: even though Andi’s hands glowed green under fluorescent light, her offspring’s hands did not.

This meant that any genetic diseases the scientists were trying to alter with this technique would not be changed for future generations.

But this experiment proved different.  Not only did the monkey’s hands glow…so did its offspring’s.  The genetic trait scientists had inserted into one monkey was passed on to future generations.

Why is this so important?  It’s important to the scientists because they can encode monkeys with human genes that cause diseases (such as Parkinson’s) that can be used for testing in hopes of finding a cure for humans with the same diseases.

On one hand, isn’t modern science amazing? Who would have thought 25 years ago that scientists would be creating genetically altered monkeys with the hopes of curing “incurable” diseases?

On The Other Hand, Is The Big Question:

What are the repercussions of all of this?  Is it ethical or cruel to create colonies of genetically altered monkeys with terrible diseases strictly for testing experimental treatments?

What are the long-term effects of permanently altering genes that are passed down from generation to generation to generation?  Could the “cure” end up worse than the disease?  This type of genetic tampering could easily positively or negatively affect the entire human race.

At this point, these are questions no one has answers to. It is very clear from the comments left on the Internet after Steve Connor wrote the article that there are strong opinions on both sides of this issue.  One hopes we as a species choose the right path.

Now, let’s talk about something a little simpler…

The Power of Vitamin D

Over the years, research in support of Vitamin D and all the wonderful things it can do for your health has been piling up.  Nowadays, it seems like new evidence is published every month.

For example, on May 26th, Science Daily reported researchers from the Moore’s Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego have proposed a new model for cancer development.  This model differs from the current one that states genetic mutations are the earliest cause of cancer development.

Instead, this theory believes that cells need to communicate with each other for healthy cell turnover.

As stated by epidemiologist Cedic Garland, PhD, Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, who led the work, “The first event in cancer is loss of communication among cells due to, among other things, low Vitamin D and calcium levels.  In this new model, we propose that this loss may play a key role in cancer by disrupting the communication between cells that is essential to healthy cell turnover allowing more aggressive cancer cells to take over.”

According to Science Daily, “Reporting online May 22, 2009 in the Annals of Epidemiology, Garland suggests that such cellular disruption could account for the earliest stages of many cancers. He said that previous theories linking Vitamin D to certain cancers have been tested and confirmed in more than 200 epidemiological studies, and understanding of its physiological basis stems from more than 2,500 laboratory studies.”

But That’s Not The Only Good News…

A press release on May 20, 2009 states that according to research at the University of Pennsylvania, “Vitamin D may halt lung function decline in asthma and COPD.”

Also on May 20, Reuters reported that, “Vitamin D may reduce decline in mental agility.”

And get this:  In the May issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, a study co-authored by Dr. John Cannell offers compelling arguments for the benefits of Vitamin D on athletic performance.

Dr. Cannell’s research shows that Vitamin D increases the size and number of Type II (fast twitch) muscle fibers. And most cross-sectional studies show Vitamin D levels are directly associated with musculoskeletal performance in older individuals.

According to Dr. Cannell, if you are deficient in Vitamin D, medical literature indicates the appropriate amount will make you faster, stronger and improve your balance.

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