Dealing with mutant genes

Jaques Fresco of Princeton University, New Jersey, USA, and his colleagues have found a cunning way to repair the mutation that causes sickle-cell anaemia. They have designed a DNA strand that hooks on to the mutant gene, b -globin. When exposed to radiation, a chemical called psoralen attached to the strand attacks the mutant gene. This triggers certain enzymes to fix mutant genes. So far, experiments have been restricted to DNA in the laboratory. Fresco expects to apply the technique to human patients some day ( Journal of Biological Chemistry , Vol 274, p21763).