Grey hair gene

So this morning while watching the news I saw that scientists found the gene that makes you go grey. They reported that scientists are now trying to find a way to disable this gene to prevent they change to grey.

While knowing the news is awful at being accurate this is something many people would love to do.
I have no idea how they would do this since almost every topic about gene modding turns to " get cancer". I'll try and find some info on this and repost it.


  • edited March 2016
         @Meanderpaul, as a geneticist, I can assure you that gene modding does NOT automatically result in cancer. There are plenty of ways to safely turn off genes but what you need to understand is its only practical to silence genes before an organism is conceived. Each of our cells multiplies with the code that is already inside of it, so we couldn't (easily if ever at all) change this gene within a grown adult, instead we'd have to produce a genetically modified human who had the gene manually silenced in whichever gamete decides hair greying in the new individual.

         Most genes have a readily identifiable start code so we can attempt to nullify that, but the reason that we end up with gene modding resulting in cancer and other sketchy results is that its very difficulty to conclusively link single genes to single traits. Many genes instead are involved either directly or indirectly in multiple processes, so while you may have found a gene that allows for hair to turn grey with age, it might also be indirectly involved in regulation of another region of the DNA. When you turn it off, sure your hair doesn't turn grey but holy shit you also accidentally turned off an important vitamin K regulator or something and you can't stop bleeding out of your scalp after the age of 30.

         Many genes (especially one's making headlines) and their interactions are only very basically understood... Its all of these really complicated webs that make genetics and understanding these connections important for the future.
    Just like in nature, when you remove one piece of the web, or you put another piece where it shouldn't be, you can have drastic and easily unforeseen consequences.

         So, in short, the people who would love to prevent grey hair within their own genetic structures are shit out of luck... probably for the next hundred years of technological advancement at least. Simply because they'd need to manually change the genetic structure of every relevant replicating cell in their body to achieve the desired results. We'll need years of testing in cloned monkeys before we can ensure such a change to human genetics is safe~
  • That explains why when googling for information everything came up with before birth and about our children.

    I knew something was going to be inaccurate with the news report lol.
  • @fuzzblaa100
    So basically DNA modding is more or less chaos theory? That said there is more than one way to cause cancer in a human then?
  • @JohnDoe

    Not at all chaos theory, but a lot of what it's built on could be related to chaos theory.

    When we want to force genes into an already living organism today, the options are fairly limited. This might be of interest> 

    You have to realize, everyone has a single cell with recombined DNA that they start from, a combination of mother and father (and occasionally another mother when a separate egg cell and therefore mitochondria are used). We start from that cell, and that cell functions to reproduce itself as exactly as possible. That replication will happen continuously throughout your body as you age, always from that template cell.

    In the adult human body there are about 1-10 trillion cells each of which have over 3 billion base pairs of information. Of these base pairs ~2.5×10−8 randomly experience a copying error resulting in a mutation. Most of the time it's harmless or in a junk region of the DNA, but if it's in a germ line cell it gets passed down.

    Now we are capable of messing with naked genes, sections of DNA at a time and splicing out and punching in pieces of genetic information... But it's time consuming... You need to make sure the procedure was done correctly by letting the cell divide and make successful little copies of itself. If the DNA is okay you can push it into an empty egg cell or something along those lines... Then it developed into a full fledged organism with the genetic changes you've made in tact, and if you didn't fuck around with it too much, it doesn't die from organ failure at birth or immediately develop incurable cancer.

    What the implication here stated was that we could just magically go into several million cells (currently residing on a living person's head) at once, and correctly insert something to silence the hair graying gene, or just splice it out entirely in every cell... and that they'd all be able to continue working that way.

    That's the major challenge. I think the realistic first step for something like this, would be a situation where we first genetically engineered cells with the gene silence, we cultured them on a mat (this is all currently possible), then we got them to differentiate and behave like scalp cells (one of the difficult parts) and then grafted them onto a persons head.

    I don't know anything about hair follicle growth, so I assume that's another major stepping stone, figuring out how to get hair to actually grow out of the grafted cells.   

    As for cancer, consider that frameshift mutations (cause by either of the following that results in changes to base pair reading frames), insertions (caused by failed replication or DNA modification), and deletions (caused by radiation, failed replication, or modding), all can cause it. When the cell is damaged in whatever region tells it to replicate it becomes cancer. It becomes seriously dangerous when it mutates in a way that the replication continues unchecked. That's how you get tumors and broken cells replicating and traveling in the blood.   
  • @Fuzzblaa100
    Okay before I go on I am aware there are more issues and unknowns with this concept. Lets say I wanted a extra chromosone for what ever reason. Could I run the chromosomes ano how ever I wanted to deliver them through IV into the blood, because what're does blood not flow in the human body. If so why not administrator what ever would turn off that gene into the blood?
  • I wonder if we could use poliosis for something like this, ya know the "affliction" that causes that kinda cool white streak in the hair.
  • I thought that was from aging lol.

    I wish I found the actual research for this but it seems to be all news articles
  • Ah yes. The gene gun. I think it would be fun to simply use this on the skin with like a firefox gene or something. I'm sure it would be short lived.. but that's actually almost a bonus really.
  • @JohnDoe    "Lets say I wanted a extra chromosone for what ever reason.
    Could I run the chromosomes ano how ever I wanted to deliver them
    through IV into the blood, because what're does blood not flow in the
    human body. If so why not administrator what ever would turn off that
    gene into the blood?"

    Okay, so this is interesting and entirely impractical for many reasons... you would have to create a cancer that knows exactly when to stop being a cancer (this strikes me as not ever possible)... and it would also have to destroy and pretty immediately replace cells throughout your body in order to actually change your genetic structure into something different. But then the whole concept of you changes... (How incredibly transhumanistic of you)

         Adding an entire extra chromosome is... no... just useless, not necessary, and probably impossible because human cells and most mammalian cells aren't meant to function with an entire extra chromosome. When you start adding and subtracting from the optimal number of chromosomes you end up with downs syndrome and severe genital and cognitive defects. It would break the cell activity. Cell division and reproduction and massive aspects of how your DNA and cellular structures work would probably need to be reprogrammed from scratch in order to compensate for something that drastic. It's overkill, when you could probably just punch in new genes easier (and even that as I've noted above is a theoretical bitch to overcome). 

    Why would you want/need an extra chromosome?

    Now that I think about it more, you might be able to put in some individual cells that replicate at a safe rate, that have an extra chromosome to make special drugs or chemicals~ but blood cell production takes place in bone marrow... and uuuuggh all this technical crap that I don't want to touch.

    What is a firefox gene?
    Also, definitely wouldn't want to gene gun on your arm~ lest you accidentally punch a desired gene into some random spot and accidentally create genetic HIV in your arm~

  • @Fuzzyblaa
    I figured as much, I was more focused on the delivery method. IV solution in the blood, as far as the chromosome example is from watching one to many x-files. You implied that there had been research done into extra chromosomes.("start adding or subtracting optimal number of chromosomes") Has there been a (un)successful attempt into adding or subtracting chromosomes? As for creating a cancer that that knows when to stop being a cancer, I think that you were thinking to inside the box. All you would need is a cancer that could be turned off, I would think a switch could be programmed into it to turn off with a chemical spike. Just a example, I am not a expert. Just brain storming, figured that if you can make a cancer you can program away to turn it off, plus test it safely.

    John Doe
  • Eh. Might be remembering the name wrong. Basically a gene like that for Luciferase. You can buy plasmid kits based on it.
  • Hum.... So about that chromosome.... Thanks Cassox!
  • @cassox firefly, wanna glow in the dark eh?
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