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Repairing Genetic Mutations With Lasers?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the shed-a-little-light-on-your-genes dept.

Biotech 65

Roland Piquepaille writes "German researchers at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (CAU) think they've proved that genetic information can be controlled by light. The group studied the interaction between the four DNA bases — adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T) — by using femtosecond time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy. The researchers think that they've demonstrated that DNA strands differ in their light sensitivity depending on their base sequences. The team thinks that it might be possible in the future to repair gene mutations using laser radiation. One of the project leaders said that 'it might even be possible under some circumstances to make transistors from DNA that would work through the hydrogen bonds.' It's not the first time I've heard about DNA computing, but this new approach looks promising."

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We know the truth... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25361353)

Althouth I really like Linux and the free software, I think that we have to accept the crushing truth.

In these times it really doesn't matter if is launched KDE 35.0 or Gnome Whistler, because while both environments (and others with less weight like IceWM) were worrying in confuse the user with a completely different aspect, Microsoft was consolidating his position as the leader in the field of the operating systems, first with the operating system Windows XP (that have approximately 90% of the market on the client side) and with its advanced successor, the recently Windows Vista, that offers a new form to interact with our PCs. Is faster, friendlier, and secure.

The reality is that Linux has little to offer to the inexperienced user. The same novice that is seen disconcerted by the impossibility to do a simple copy-paste between QT and GTK applications. If you don't believe me, go out and ask to the people how they install a program that does NOT have packages for their distribution (because each one has its own packege system, completely incompatible with the others, and requires the use of complicated commands). Even RPM packages can't be installed equally in Mandriva and SuSE.

Then what we suggest to this user (that is just beginning in the Unix Word) is that he need to download the source code, open the console, decompress it and compile it. How many people get to do it? One of each a million, I have to say. We persist in THAT is the normal thing... nothing more far from reality.

Explain him why in his Ubuntu, Kubuntu or Fedora, he cannot see many web pages: he must download the Flash and the Java plugin, in order to install them with complicated commands. Also make him know that he won't be able to listen his MP3, WMA and WMV files. Tell to the flaming buyer of a new AMD64 how he can play flash games. A shit.

And the gamers? Obviously they'll return to windows, because even God can't use the hardware acceleration of the most modern graphics cards (besides, the drivers don't come included with the distributions... becuase of "freedom"). How many games can be run on Linux?... just a few ones. By each Linux videogame we have 500 that run on Windows. And the few ones that run on Linux...Oh! Surprise!...Just Windows binaries on the CD, and you have to download the Linux version from a website. Finally the user returns to the best option, the most used OS in homes (we know what OS is).

The proof of the free software failure is seen also in the professional world, either in areas like electronic design (doesn't exist anything similar to Protel), architecture (the standard CAD -all we know wich one-only works on Windows), web design (something similar to Dreamweaver? Don't mention me something like NVU, that not only is full of bugs, but just have the 5% of the Dreamweaver features. Neither Bluefish, Quanta or similars... no one would face a complex project with such a primitive tools). DTP? Scribus is a good try (very immature) but Quark or InDesign are far batter. Flash content creation (a standard, and a flash player installed in the 99% of PCs)? It cannot be done on Linux.

In the software development industry there's not a single decent RAD tool. Gambas seems to promise, but for now is shit; Eclipse is a RAM eater (thanks Java) that can only be used with 2GB RAM; Kylix promised to give us the potential of Delphi to Linux, but it was discontinued because the developers hate to pay for licenses and they prefer to use a primitive tool, like KDevelop. And now that we talk about Borland tools, is not rare that programming gurus like Ian Marteens abandoned Delphi and C++ Builder and now prefer the most powerful system for software development: Microsoft Visual Studio.NET.

A computer game developer would not develop free (as in free spech) games, because they have to eat and there's not a business model compatible with free software. The Linux users don't want free (as in free spech) games, they just want commercial quality without pay a single buck.

Accounting software? On Linux? There's not software in this area. The businessman wants to have something standard, something friendly, something mature. He doesn't want to be fighting with a console, compiling sources, and in the end (if he finally get it compile) get a half-finished application.

If Linux is free (in both senses)...Why the high computers-makers don't preinstall it (just a 1% do that)? Or at least dual-boot? Others, in other hand, opt for FreeDOS.

The PC Battle is loss... because it never exist. Linux with it's chaotic development (instead of boost existing applications or create new ones to supply the lacks, we have thousand clones of each one (unfinished, by the way) or that directly just make us laugh) just has dug it's own tomb. The user don't want a degree in Computer Science: He wants to insert the game CD, make a few clicks and have all installed and running. He doesn't want headaches. He wants visit XXX sites and watch the video correctly. He wants to install his webcam without recompiling the kernel.

Keep defending the console. Keep defending LaTeX as if it was something that a secretary or a lawyer have to use with the same simplicity of Microsoft Office. You keep defending Vi as the best tool for software developmnet or for web site design. You keep believing that new users need to get close to Debian or Gentoo, taking days to configure a USB modem. You keep hating distributions like Ubuntu or SuSE because are trying to be friendly. You keep just like this and in the end there will be just three frikis using Linux, while the rest of the world will be using a OS that is already mature and functional: Windows.

And You? Where do you want to go today?

Thanks for you attention.

good work (4, Funny)

nicknamenottaken (1384173) | more than 5 years ago | (#25361387)

Good to see they're shedding light on the topic

Re:good work (1)

cailith1970 (1325195) | more than 5 years ago | (#25362803)

Warning! Do not look at laser with remaining genetically mutated eye.

CAN'T WORK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25362921)

But seriously, while I can see how such properties would facilitate reading of DNA base-pairs, how would they permit gene sequence modification?

You can't use lasers to etch base-pairs, in a reciprocal process to reading them. You need to be able to substitute in new base-pairs for whatever you're replacing. I don't see how lasers are going to accomplish that.

Wouldn't it just be better to synthesize an entirely new sequence, de novo, from scratch? Then it can contain whatever base-pair sequence you want.

Or else, maybe you could come up with some optically-controlled enzyme that would crawl along the DNA strand, kicking off a base-pair when desired and substituting in some other one.

This will only work with the proper mount... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25361391)

Sharks!

woohoo! (5, Insightful)

db32 (862117) | more than 5 years ago | (#25361459)

Eugenics here we come!

I have a wonderfully hilarious image of fundamentalists chasing homosexuals around with flashlights because they read the dumbed down Fox friendly version of this story.

Re:woohoo! (4, Insightful)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 5 years ago | (#25361697)

Does anyone else find it a really disturbing sign of the times that the parent was modded Insightful, not Funny?

Re:woohoo! (3, Funny)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 5 years ago | (#25361771)

Relax; it's probably just another case of using Insightful instead of Funny to give the poster an undeserved karma point.

Re:woohoo! (3, Funny)

sgbett (739519) | more than 5 years ago | (#25362083)

I considered modding you funny, but felt the irony might be missed!

Re:woohoo! (2, Insightful)

db32 (862117) | more than 5 years ago | (#25361839)

I find it terribly disturbing and I am the poster!

Though, to be serious, this type of science inevitably comes down to "cure those who are different".

Re:woohoo! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25363551)

In the defense of this, many times this being "different" is a severe biological inconvenience, and many people would like to be cured.

Re:woohoo! (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25362389)

I find it more disturbing that it was marked overrated: that indicates that there may be some fundamentalists who already chase homosexuals with flashlights after watching fox, and they were offended.

Re:woohoo! (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25364499)

Notice how this is about repairing mere mutations (different = BAD), rather than defects?

Re:woohoo! Hmmm. Torchsong Trilogy could end (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 5 years ago | (#25362879)

up being Torchlight Tragedy...?

But, in the end if this is "God's" work, then assuming God is perfect, then all is as God wanted, and the humans are simply delusional through and through.

Imagine the human body a car. The will the driver. If a sect or subclass of humans decides they have divination to go and destroy the genome with a flashlight (or by earth-shaking Sunday sermons and witch hunts, etc.) then the general population should be interested in or consider taking up maces, chain lines, and mauls and proceed to go after motorcyclists with loud pipes, who tear down streets keeping people awake at night. Maybe the populace should take axes and drills to suped-up expensive cars, even though the CARS don't kill people, speeding drivers (and a dose of bad luck for the run-down) do.

Admittedly, it's not a good analogy. But, fortunately, flashlights won't fix people up that way, and light-waving people might end up shattering the entire species, even other animals, if everyone with a God's-will mission used a gene-destabilizing piece of instrumentation...

What was that Jack asked/implored in, what, Witches of Eastwick: "Why can't we all just GET ALONG?"?

Some people are WIRED to not get along...

Re:woohoo! Hmmm. Torchsong Trilogy could end (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 5 years ago | (#25363561)

What was that Jack asked/implored in, what, Witches of Eastwick: "Why can't we all just GET ALONG?"?

So that's where that came from!

It's one of the Warlock imp's quotes in World of Warcraft.

Good to know that Jack's legacy will live on in the entertainment world.

Re:woohoo! Hmmm. Torchsong Trilogy could end (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25364711)

will you please shut the fuck up you lump of shit? go fist yourself you bitch ass trick. you're just the stupidest motherfucker i've ever seen. a god damn idiot if i've ever known one.

Re:woohoo! Hmmm. Torchsong Trilogy could end (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 5 years ago | (#25371699)

I truly will devote a few minutes tonight offering any offerable karma that might benefit you. I don't know why you're on a mission to disparage me. I get it enough here, and you're way over the top. I don't know you, don't care to engage in duels, spars, barbs with you. I truly hope you find peace and calm in your life. Life is short. Try to enjoy it without undue stress. I'm sure you have talents and inclinations that could be of benefit to many many people. I'm not worth the energy you're expending. I'm not being facile or crazy with you. I'm actually hoping you do find relaxation and resolution and good things in life.

Regards.

Re:woohoo! (1)

xant (99438) | more than 5 years ago | (#25362961)

Fundies believe homosexuality is learned. If you see any running around holding flashlights in their fists, it's not eugenics, it's closeted gayness.

Re:woohoo! (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 5 years ago | (#25363649)

Why else would they have flashlights other than to see in the dark closet?

That being said, I wouldn't say all fundies think it is learned. I remember not so long ago there was a fairly large push to "cure" the gay gene by some of their think tanks.

Misleading headline (5, Insightful)

robinsonne (952701) | more than 5 years ago | (#25361469)

From reading TFA, the researchers have seen that different bases will fluoresce different lengths of time when they shoot a laser at them. I can see where it might help with sequencing (as is mentioned in TFA) by recognizing the presumably fast glow pattern, but anything beyond that is plain wishful thinking on the part of the writer.

One might also envisage linking the photophysical properties to genetic characteristics. When these mechanisms are better understood, it might in the long term become possible to repair gene mutations using laser radiation.

I can imagine breeding flying pigs too, but I don't see it happening anytime soon either.

Re:Misleading headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25362261)

WHere have all the good trolls gone? I mean, there was a time when a Piquepaille story would release a torrent, but now not even Natalie Portman is interested in hot grits, and the Russians haf forgotten all about the Frenchman who lusts after Timmy.

Re:Misleading headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25362283)

No, no, no - first you induce the genetic mutations, then you breed the flying pigs.

Re:Misleading headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25363835)

"No, no, no - first you induce the genetic mutations, then you breed the flying pigs"

Catapults.
Been there. Done that.

Next ! ;-D

Re:Misleading headline (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25362487)

Yeah, I don't see any indication that you can actually manipulate genes in vivo using light at all. The quote by the researcher looks like it's only about diagnosing, observation. No mechanism at all about manipulation. It seems to be whoever was writing the article put that in without knowing anything about it.

You have billions of base pairings in your genome, and each cell has a copy. The genome is in the nucleus of each cell, and most of your cells are, of course, inside of you. Even if you did surgery to get to the cells, I see absolutely no way you could specifically change individual base pairs, or even take out whole chromesomes. Shooting a laser into a cell would not be specific enough to "undo" a mutation. I don't see any way this could ever work in cells.

Re:Misleading headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25362741)

How would it be possible to repair DNA? cut someone open and shine light on their cancer? HAHA Is this person serious, do they even understand the fundamentals of chemistry, biology and physics? The reason DNA damage is so harmful is because it spreads to other cells, how would you isolate only the damaged cells and shine light on the DNA in chromatin?

Re:Misleading headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25362875)

only someone with no understanding of cell biology would think direct dna manipulation is imminent

dna in the cell is wound around big protein complexes in nucleosomes, around histones which are basically spools to prevent these long chains of dna from getting in the way

you would need to unwind the dna first otherwise you'd shoot up multiple bases at a time in vivo

also what are the properties of these lasers in cell cytoplasm and other gunk in the nucleus? the whole thing probably doesnt work if it has potential to bounce off proteins, polysaccharides , cell membranes, and all the other gunk in a living cell.

use cases would have to be something like ivf or gene therapy where you can extract dna from the cell, manipulate and then inject back into a cell which you then have to shoot back into the organism somehow

Re:Misleading headline (2, Insightful)

Rutulian (171771) | more than 5 years ago | (#25364463)

Forget about the cell biology. What about the chemistry and physics? How can laser light change a base pair? Radiation can induce mutations because it can, among other things, promote photochemical reactions that make bases or base pairs unrecognizable to the cell machinery. As a result, polymerases introduce mismatched bases when replicating a sequence. I cannot think of any possible way of directly converting, say, a thymidine to a cytidine by irradiating it. Doesn't mean it's not possible, but certainly isn't something that's going to be on the table anytime soon.

verb? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25361505)

" The team thinks that it might be possible in the future to gene mutations using laser radiation."

what's the verb? to ____ gene mutations? to fix? to create? to create velociraptors by exposing frogs to?

Re:verb? (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25361543)

to create velociraptors by exposing frogs to

That could only lead to chaos.

Re:verb? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25364205)

Or more interesting animal racing events.

Specially if the jockeys can avoid getting eaten.

Or maybe that can be reserved as a special perk for the best thoroughbreds.

(I know, I know - that's a very cold-blooded thing to say.)

Re:verb? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25361635)

I accidentally to gene mutations. Is this bad?

Re:verb? (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 5 years ago | (#25362091)

That sentence no verb!

How about natural genetic anomalies? (2, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#25361509)

Like the ones that cause hair loss in men that was discovered earlier this week. :)

Re:How about natural genetic anomalies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25362105)

Don't tease me, link please?

Re:How about natural genetic anomalies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25367995)

There have been TV Advertising commercials where a bald person uses a red-light
comb through their hair and magically , hair grows back. Hmmm, I didn't know
it was connected to the genetic mutations in my skin or hair cell. :) Maybe
this stuff really works!!!!

Laser radiation? (4, Funny)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 5 years ago | (#25361515)

Is that like a pin number?

Re:Laser radiation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25361959)

Not to be pedantic, but Laser radiation is a fair term. Laser light is a commonly used and generally valid term for what comes out da' end of da' tube, and calling it 'radiation' is really just making use of a thesaurus on a common and accurate term...

Re:Laser radiation? (2, Insightful)

Wizard Drongo (712526) | more than 5 years ago | (#25362075)

And what "LASER" stands for has just gone flying over your head at the, well the speed of Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.

Re:Laser radiation? (1)

john83 (923470) | more than 5 years ago | (#25368177)

I have just such an amplification in my lab.

Re:Laser radiation? (1)

bane2571 (1024309) | more than 5 years ago | (#25362095)

To be pedantic:

The term "laser" is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation (Wikipedia)

So it is exactly like PIN number

Re:Laser radiation? (1)

chihowa (366380) | more than 5 years ago | (#25362365)

To be doubly pedantic, the acronym LASER describes a process and not a product. Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation is a process by which you make coherent, sometimes monochromatic, light. So laser radiation would describe the radiation produced by the LASER process.

Re:Laser radiation? (1)

bane2571 (1024309) | more than 5 years ago | (#25362491)

That's ummm... well...hmmm.

Touche!

Re:Laser radiation? (1)

weirdo557 (959623) | more than 5 years ago | (#25364305)

more like an atm machine

Light Therapy (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 5 years ago | (#25361605)

Interestingly, some of the Edgar Cayce trance-inspired therapies involved exposure to light in specific wavelengths. I wonder how well those went, and if there's any correspondence?

Charles, no! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25362049)

Who will take this worse, Professor X or Magneto?

Laser beams (2, Funny)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 5 years ago | (#25362157)

Now we just need a couple of sharks.

Lasers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25364125)

is there anything they can't do?

Huh? (1)

stainlesssteelpat (905359) | more than 5 years ago | (#25362159)

I think i saw something like this in an old film called "fantastic voyage. But where will they get the minature sharks?

Who decides what constitutes a 'mutation'? (1)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 5 years ago | (#25362363)

The time we start dictating what a genetic 'standard' is and classifying variations as 'mutations' is when we start playing God.

Re:Who decides what constitutes a 'mutation'? (1)

endymion.nz (1093595) | more than 5 years ago | (#25362815)

Funny, they said that about polio vaccines.

Re:Who decides what constitutes a 'mutation'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25364281)

Man, the joke I could make if Spore wasn't already out...

Okay but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25362481)

Do they use Crocodile with a laser beam to do procedure?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5KxG4q6QFw

Okay, now I get it... (1)

RudeIota (1131331) | more than 5 years ago | (#25362967)

The Turtles and Splinter all lived in the dark, light forbidden labyrinth of the sewer... Coincidence?

It all makes sense now.

Great. A cancer ray. (1)

Iowan41 (1139959) | more than 5 years ago | (#25363005)

Or name-your-genetic-disease-here. Putin will be thrilled.

I wonder... (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 5 years ago | (#25363473)

...if this can be weaponized? Like a laser that causes people's genes to horribly mutate.

"Normalizing" mutants with lasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25363631)

Better not let Magneto hear about this...

Repairing vs. reversing (1)

Phillibuster (1232966) | more than 5 years ago | (#25363693)

I think 'reversing' would be a better word than 'repairing'. Not every mutation is harmful (though I'm sure a vast majority aren't beneficial).

This is nothing new ... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25363705)

I remember reading about a miniaturized submarine that was injected into a Russian defector, so that the teeny tiny crew could use a laser to repair a blood clot.

Biomorphic Field goes Mainstream ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25363969)

So, the bunch o'crazies that were running about since the - oh, the 40's, at least - ranting and babbling about microwaves end e-m interference being capable of all sorts of biological effects - from far-away cancer-induction to wonder-cures and Dr. Moreau style mutation induction.... they were on to something ?

I vaguely remember a couple of tratactii by a Russian personality, and some other folk in the 90's, who claimed that the wrapped-up chromossome resembled a coil antenna so much that it was supposedly sensible to information-carrying e-m radiation in the (can't remember) ranges.

There was something about attaching gold-bearing molecules to the ladder's outside at regular intervals - to help manipulation somehow. Though I can't see what's wrong with plain old haemoglobin.

Of course, terahertz radiation can be "lased" too. So....

We'll just resequence your DNA (2, Interesting)

Analogy Man (601298) | more than 5 years ago | (#25364627)

Now all those Trek episodes where they do genetic level medical procedures with a blue flashlight are a tiny bit less fantasy.

very bad summary (3, Informative)

Rutulian (171771) | more than 5 years ago | (#25364685)

Ok, that certainly has to be the worst layman's summary of a scientific paper I have ever seen. The actual article is here. [sciencemag.org] You will need a subscription to Science to read it, which most university libraries have. The researchers have used time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy to measure excited state lifetimes of DNA molecules. They found--surprise!--that the mean lifetimes are dependent on the structure of the molecules, which is ultimately dependent on the sequence.

These are very difficult experiments to do, and the data is good, but there isn't anything particularly breathtaking about the results. Perhaps the resolution is a bit amazing. It is theoretically expected that sequences of 5'-d(AAGAAAAGAAAAGAAAAGAA)-3' and 5'-d(AAGAAGAAGAAGAAGAAGAA)-3' would have different decay properties, but you might not expect it to be measurable by an ensemble technique.

Anyway, none of this has anything to do with the summary. This isn't "light sensitivity" of DNA. This can't be applied to DNA sequencing, at least not in any practical way. And there is no possibility of repairing genetic mutations with light. The computing thing...also quite a bit of a stretch. Of course, this isn't Roland's fault. He just quoted the German press release....

Re:very bad summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25365611)

....It is theoretically expected that sequences of 5'-d(AAGAAAAGAAAAGAAAAGAA)-3' and 5'-d(AAGAAGAAGAAGAAGAAGAA)-3' would have different decay properties, but you might ...

You alright mate?

Re:very bad summary (1)

john83 (923470) | more than 5 years ago | (#25368489)

You know, this is why I still read Slashdot. In the midst of all the overlord jokes, the google-bashing and the inane repetition of people's opinions on the failed state of IP law, there's generally one guy who actually knows what he's talking about. Thank you.

The researchers have used time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy to measure excited state lifetimes of DNA molecules... It is theoretically expected that sequences of 5'-d(AAGAAAAGAAAAGAAAAGAA)-3' and 5'-d(AAGAAGAAGAAGAAGAAGAA)-3' would have different decay properties, but you might not expect it to be measurable by an ensemble technique.

So are these guys the first to do an ensemble measurement of this?

Anyway, none of this has anything to do with the summary... Of course, this isn't Roland's fault. He just quoted the German press release....

Ah, Roland. I should have noticed. Anyway, it's interesting to read the release and see what remarks are supported by quotes. As ever, the biggest claims aren't supported, but they are the ones which get reported.

Re:very bad summary (1)

Rutulian (171771) | more than 5 years ago | (#25368955)

So are these guys the first to do an ensemble measurement of this?

They aren't the first to measure mean excited state lifetimes on DNA molecules. Without doing a literature search, though, I think they are the first to try to systematically measure it with regard to the single-stranded DNA sequence.

As ever, the biggest claims aren't supported, but they are the ones which get reported.

Yeah, unfortunately this happens a lot, often by the people doing the science in addition to the media. Sadly, it's what gets funding and keeps the public interest.

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