MadSci Network: Genetics

Re: can genes make my hair glow

Date: Fri May 28 08:47:40 2010
Posted By: Keith Jones, Faculty, Pharmacology and Cell Biophysics, University of Cincinnati
Area of science: Genetics
ID: 1269634884.Ge

In theory, yes, this could be done.  There are a series of green
fluorescent proteins (GFP), that are often used in gene expression
cassettes in science to mark where new genes are expressed. The original
GFP was isolated from the jellyfish Aequorea victoria, and this small
protein fluoresces when blue light is shone on it.  There have been studies
in mice where GFPs were expressed in hair follicles successfully.  In
theory, one could express the GFP using a gene that expresses its product
int he hair, and the hair would incorporate the GFP.

In practice, gene therapy, the use of genetic material to drive gene
expression in a human, is used only for serious medical ailments for which
there is no other cure.  There are risks of adverse effects (immune
response, toxicity) that currently prevent this kind of approach from being
sed for cosmetic reasons n humans. 

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