Im seriously, you guys.
ANY MEDICAL CONDITION YOU CAN THINK OF: There is a scientist, somewhere, trying to use viruses to treat/cure that condition.
Lots of people, either through age or genetic defect, need pacemakers.
Pacemakers, while functional, come with a list of difficulties– from the insertion process to making sure the damn battery works, to all the bacteria that could hitch a ride on the pacemaker to cause all kinds of complications.
But we are kinda stuck. I mean, we cant just make new pacemaker cells. Right? … Right?
HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA *lightningcrashesscarylighting* AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! *morelightning*
[/evil scientist laugh]
Turns out that while many proteins differentiate a regular heart cell from a pacemaker cell, switching on the Tbx18 gene, a trascription factor, is enough to flip a regular cell into a pacemaker. Any time a problem is as simple as delivering one gene, we have a useful tool at our disposal: viruses. So scientists popped Tbx18 into an adenovirus (nice!).
The cells that got the GMO virus made Tbx18 and started to make the proteins pacemaker cells need, and stopped making smooth muscle proteins. The treated cells started looking and acting like pacemaker cells!!
One day, hopefully soon, pacemakers will be archaic relics, and an injection of GMO viruses into your heart will keep it beating.
Oh, quick disclaimer– one way Tbx18 works is that it leads to the epigenetic modification of the smooth muscle cells, which helps them transform. Contrary to what woo-meisters say about epigenetics, this DOES NOT MEAN you can ‘relax’ more pacemaker cells into existence. It does not mean you can grow more pacemaker cells by eating broccoli and doing yoga.
You have to jab a needle of GMO viruses into your heart.