Stargate Atlantis: Gene Therapy

By Stephen Cass | September 15, 2008 4:19 pm

Screenshot from the Stargate Atlantis episode titled “The Queen”On Friday night’s episode of Stargate Atlantis, one of the characters had to go undercover in order to convince a faction of the show’s resident villians, the Wraith, to accept a gene therapy. The therapy would eliminate the Wraith’s need to feed on human beings, something which has become a bone of contention between the Wraith and other residents of their galaxy.

Gene therapy works by rewriting a patient’s genetic code, an impossibility with conventional medicines, and could be used to combat diseases such as hemophilia, Parkinsons, and cancer. It’s a beautifully simple idea in concept, but the real world scientists that are working to make it a common-place reality are finding the execution to be a tough problem.

There are a number of tough nuts to crack: delivering the therapeutic DNA into a cell without triggering a massive immune response (such a response killed a participant in a gene therapy clinical trial in 1999); maintaining a therapeutic level of treated cells within the body, difficult to do when the body is replenishing old cells with new ones created with the body’s own non-modified genome; and making sure the therapeutic DNA doesn’t cause havoc with the healthy DNA in a cell, possibly provoking the creation of a tumor. However, after the very slow progress since 1990, there have been some gains made in recent years, with an Italian team announcing that they had found a way to deliver gene therapy without triggering an immune response–at least in mice–in 2006.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Biotech, Genetics, TV

Comments (3)

  1. The episode guide for “The Queen” in the Stargate Solutions Wiki has been updated with a link to this article.

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »