Epigenetic horrors await as Monsanto acquires key gene silencing technology for use in humans

The nascent field of epigenetics is making scientists and pharmaceutical houses drool all over the world. Recent discoveries that DNA is much more than a blueprint for protein building have opened the door to a brand new ATGC playground. Many of the regions formerly considered mere ‘junk’ DNA appear to regulate gene expression through keyed methylation (turning genes on or off). RNA is much more than just a messenger within the cell; microRNA–little bits of RNA–is derived from ‘junk DNA’. MicroRNA acts as molecular police within the cell, protecting our DNA from retroviral insertion and ‘jumping genes’. Even the number of repeats within the ‘junk’ seem to have a purpose beyond that of DNA mapping for CSI episodes. SINES and LINES (Short Interspered Elements and Long Interspersed Elements, respectively) may be crucial to organizational aspects of chromatin and may also help protect the cell from disease.

The big problem with this incredibly interesting new field is that it IS brand new. For nearly a hundred years, geneticists assumed a simple math of one gene equals one protein, but our God-created structure is far more fearfully and wonderfully made! Any tinkering with God’s design risks opening up a mortal, intracellular wound that might never be healed until Christ returns.

As Christians, we’ve been taught to ask God’s blessing before eating our meals. Now, we might need to add a prayer seeking His protection from unwanted cellular disruption from potentially lethal inclusions, courtesy of the bio-pharmers of the world.

VLP Tech Means Big Money: Takeda to Acquire LigoCyte Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

This little press release caught my eye this afternoon—as I sit home slogging  through a second bout of gastroenteritis in a few months. Both Derek and a close friend mentioned that a neighboring town closed their schools a few weeks ago due to an outbreak of Norovirus, which may or may not be what’s got hold of me right now. Curious, I did a quick search for news articles about Noroviruses, and this popped up from a few days ago.

With all the Norovirus outbreaks in schools and on cruise ships over the past few years, it isn’t a big surprise that pharmaceutical companies have been racing for a vaccine that would cover a variety of strains. Who knew that such a company operated in Bozeman, Montana? LigoCyte has a patented bit of pharm tech called VLP (Virus-Like-Particle). You can read all about that process here at LigoCyte’s homepage.

If you’re curious, check out the acquisition announcement at the PR Newswire section of the Sacramento Bee. Here’s the lead paragraph:

OSAKA, Japan, DEERFIELD, Ill. and BOZEMAN, Mont., Oct. 4, 2012 — /PRNewswire/ — Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited Takeda and LigoCyte Pharmaceuticals, Inc. jointly announced today that Takedas wholly-owned subsidiary, Takeda America Holdings, Inc. and LigoCyte Pharmaceuticals, Inc. have entered into a definitive agreement for Takeda to acquire LigoCyte for an upfront payment of $60 million, with future contingent consideration based on the progress of development projects. LigoCyte is a privately-held biopharmaceutical company specializing in innovative vaccine products headquartered in Bozeman, Montana. Its lead product, a vaccine to prevent norovirus gastroenteritis, is in phase I/II of clinical development.