Health Zone: Gene Dreams; Jill Palmer's Medical Casebook: Hope for Victims of Rare DNA Disorders

By Palmer, Jill | The Mirror (London, England), August 17, 2000 | Go to article overview

Health Zone: Gene Dreams; Jill Palmer's Medical Casebook: Hope for Victims of Rare DNA Disorders


Palmer, Jill, The Mirror (London, England)


THE announcement this summer that the "code of life" had been cracked was rightly hailed as one of the major scientific breakthroughs in the history of mankind.

But mapping the entire human genome - the sequence of DNA that is the blueprint for every individual - is not simply an intellectual exercise. Its applications within medicine will be almost limitless. Knowing our genetic make- up will allow doctors to tackle the root causes of illness. If a gene is faulty it can be repaired.

If it's missing it can be replaced. There is a long way to go before gene therapy becomes routinely available. But for sufferers of genetically determined illnesses everywhere it will mean, at last, the chance of a cure. Six-year-old Courteney Pearson and 47-year-old Liz Spour were both born withgenetic disorders. Their illnesses and stories are both very different yet gene therapy would provide more effective treatment - even a cure for both.

COURTENEYPearson was born with a rare inherited illness which was slowly poisoning her body. She was two weeks old when she was diagnosed with propionic acidaemia, a condition in which vital enzymes, produced mainly in the liver, are missing.

This leads to a build-up of toxins which poison the brain, causing brain damage or death by the age of seven. Courteney owes her life to an amazing piggy-back liver transplant when she was 22 months old. She became the first person in the world to have the pioneering surgery to beat an incurable metabolic disorder.

But although the intricate 10- hour operation cured the condition and saved her life, it condemned Courteney to a lifetime of immuno-suppressant drugs. Now, five years later, she still needs five drugs a day to ensure she does not reject her new liver. Gene therapy could release her from that lifelong medication.

It was this that convinced liver transplant surgeon NigelHeaton to remove only 70 per cent of Courteney's own liver and replace it with a healthy donor liver. He left nearly athird of her own defective liver behind in the hope that one day gene therapy could correct it.

This was much more difficult than a whole transplant, due to the problems of joining veins and arteries to two different livers. But it has been a total success. "Courteney is fantastically well now," says her mother Amanda, from Dover, Kent. "If she hadn't had the transplant she would be brain-damaged or dead by now.

"Yet she can look forward to her seventh birthday next month, and in five years time there is every chance that there will be an injection available which will provide the enzymes she needs to correct her own liver." Since Courteney's world- beating liver swap, Nigel Heaton has carried out six similar piggy-back transplants on children with different metabolic disorders at King's College Hospital in South London, the only unit in the UK using the technique.

"Leaving part of the patient'sown liver behind makes them suitable for genetherapy when it becomes available," says Mr Heaton. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Health Zone: Gene Dreams; Jill Palmer's Medical Casebook: Hope for Victims of Rare DNA Disorders
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.