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Genes and drugs

Different drugs work in different ways.

Some medical drugs work by turning on a gene which can compensate for the defective activity of another gene. PhD student Daniel Lai explains how this might offer a potential treatment for some patients with muscular dystrophy (where dystrophin protein is not made)?

Transcript

Daniel Lai (PhD student, Auckland University): In some rare cases with dystrophin problems, utrophin [a related protein] seems to come up and take its place enough to lessen the effects [it fulfils the role of the absent dystrophin, lessening the effects of DMD disease].

So you try and bring it up [by increasing its concentration in the cell]. You don’t have to do a genetic manipulation to bring it up. You can follow a chemical approach, a pharmacological approach, like you add some drug and it’ll bring up the expression of this gene [the utrophin gene]. And this gene, let’s say B [utrophin], may be able to partially take the place of gene A [dystrophin, which is not expressed in DMD patients]. So you’re not fully recovering from the disease but you’re lessening the effects of it; it’s not as bad.

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