Re: Artificial Chromosome Success in Mice

S.J. Van Sickle (
Thu, 21 Oct 1999 08:47:13 -0500 (CDT)

On Wed, 20 Oct 1999, Robert J. Bradbury wrote:

> Steve, I'm not so sure about this. As I read the press release
> they want to use inherited chromosomes for engineering animals
> to produce specific proteins. That isn't "somatic" engineering,

The part that caught my eye was:

>>Chromos is also working on human artificial chromosomes for use in >>conventional, non-germline gene therapy.

Sounds like somatic cell therapy to me. Granted, they are working on engineered animals for protein production, certainly a more near-term (if you will pardon the expression) "cash cow" than human therapy.

> The fundamental problem with whole chromosome approaches is that
> you have to get "whole" chromosomes into cells. You can't

Yep, that's a tough one.

> Richard Simmons is lying on the operating table. The cameras
> cut to the gene therapy stage containing billions of micro-needles
> with tipped with anti-fat chromosomes descending slowly towards his
> body. You observe the needles slowly intersecting and penetrating
> the skin... In the background you hear this agonizing scream of
> pain. "Oowweeee!!! That huuurrrrrtttts!!!"

Hey! Richard's from my home town. I've met him. Nice guy, treats his mother well. Just glad he lost those red-white-blue shorts. :)

Somehow, I think Chromos probably has some other approach in mind.

> I think there are ways around this problem but the engineering
> hurdles are not small.

They never are, are they? For the really good stuff, anyhow.

The only downer in the release was:

>>But the company says it won't let its technology be used for human
>>germline engineering.  "We are in control of the technology, and we
>>don't want to engage in germline gene therapy," stresses Utterson.  

Wimps. Fortunately, they aren't the only ones working in this field.