Image Hi, I am Helen from France, and I am 23. I work in Medical Biotechnology at the University of Strasbourg.

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Thanks to biotechnology, we are already able to produce some drugs of vital importance (e.g. insulin is made by microorganisms which are genetically modified with the human insulin gene) or vaccines (e.g. the vaccine against hepatitis-B). In the last decades a new era started: the effort put toward the understanding of our genome, started with its sequencing, will likely lead to the unravelling of mechanisms of insurgence of many pathologies, like cancer and neurodegenerative diseases (among which there are Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s) and consequently to the development of new revolutionary treatments.

It will be possible, for example, to define a genetic profile for each individual, which will be used to evaluate the predisposition of the subject to develop a certain disease or his/her response to a drug, which will lead someday to a more rapid and efficient personalized therapy, or the development of molecular diagnostic tests, which will allow to identify and diagnose tumours (predictive tests for prostate, breast and colorectal cancers have already been developed) and other diseases.

Anti-cancer research is exploring new therapeutic strategies: nanotechnology-based therapies (extremely small particles which are used as nano-drugs); gene therapy, which tries to eradicate the problem by repairing the defective genes which cause the insurgence of tumours; monoclonal antibodies and proteic inhibitors, which are drugs that are able to block in a selective way the abnormal molecules; and, finally, stem cells, which function as a “Trojan horse”. In fact, they can approach the tumoral mass and “unmask” it to the immune system of the patient, or kill the tumoral mass directly thanks to a “pharmacological arsenal” introduced in the stem cells by genetic engineering.

But what are these cells? Stem cells are “baby cells” which have not yet decided what to do when they become adult, and therefore they cannot do what mature and specialized cells do such as liver or blood cells. Stem cells represent a real “maintenance department” in our body, because they can substitute damaged cells. Stem cells are therefore the great prospect to cure diseases in which cells die, for example in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, heart diseases and some types of diabetes.


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Food safety Food safety
Speak with Adriana about...
Environment Environment
Speak with Helen about...
Cure for cancer and<br />     neurodegenerative disorders Cure for cancer and
     neurodegenerative disorders

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