Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Remember That Future Gene Roddenberry Promised Us?
We’re beginning to see it come together. Reporting for the New York Times, Denise Grady reveals how one of humanity’s viral nemesises, HIV, was captured, disabled, and turned so that it could be used to fight another medical foe— Leukemia. “The technique employs a disabled form of H.I.V. because it is very good at carrying genetic material into T-cells. The new genes program the T-cells to attack B-cells, a normal part of the immune system that turn malignant in leukemia.” For most Westerners, this is tantamount to magic. Cancer has long been the death sentence in the 1st world, with HIV a close second. most of ys can comprehend the use of little silicon-based machines working wonders based on their programming but the idea that we could take an insidious, virulent virus and use it to throw person after person into remission is pretty abstract— even for this geek. Don’t get me wrong—Breakthroughs like the discovery of Dark Energy (72% of the stuff in the Universe, but which we can’t “see”) are amazing, as well as being similarly confounding, but the use of this tech to solve more mundane problems is astounding.