The medical science for genetic manipulation continues to advance in our modern world. Now, science incorporates this technology in a research that would protect humans from HIV or human immunodeficiency virus.
Cats are also afflicted with an equivalent immunodeficiency virus to humans known as FIV or feline immunodefiency virus. With this similarity, scientist opted to do research on cats since the viruses; HIV and FIV are very similar in disease manifestations.
Research was conducted to manipulate the genes of cats to offer resistance to the FIV virus. Genetic modification of cats incorporates two genes inserted to the fertilized egg, the gene that restricts FIV infection and gene from jellyfish which codes a greenish fluorescent protein and then implanted to a surrogate cat that will carry the genetically altered offspring.
If the process was successful, the genetically modified cat will produce a greenish fluorescent glow and will be a determining factor that the AIDS resistant gene was also successfully incorporated into the offspring.
“For the first time we have the ability to manipulate protection genes into an AIDS susceptible animal,” said Eric Poeschla, an infectious diseases virologist at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
How would this benefit the human population?
So, you’ll probably be wondering what will be the implications of this genetic modification and research to the general human population. At this point, it is still early to say whether this method can also be used against HIV infection. But this is a step for mankind to explore the possibilities of alternative treatments through gene therapy and manipulation.
“In the future, we might engineer people’s cells by adding a gene that encodes resistance, not to the whole body, but to the T-cells that are targeted by HIV” commented Paula Cannon, a geneticist at the University of Southern California’s Keck School Of Medicine.
In the near future, we will be able to manipulate genes of cells that fight diseases like cancer, HIV, dengue or even genetically enhance our cells to boost our immune system to fight the common cold or better yet, modification of our genes to be totally resistant to diseases. Imagine the numerous possibilities are there and it’s just within the grasp of science. For this dream to be realized, we’ll still have to wait and see.