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Creating personalised drugs

Creating personalised drugs

In 2020 a father will create a new drug to try to save his daughter’s life

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
IN JULY 2019, Rohan Seth published an emotional message on Twitter. It said that his six-month-old daughter, Lydia, had been born with a random gen­etic mutation. He had been told that she would live a life full of pain and never sit up, crawl, walk or talk. Doctors said that nothing could be done. But Mr Seth explained that he planned to use a technology called antisense oligonucleotides (ASO) to create a personalised drug just for his daughter.

Every human being has about 6bn letters of DNA in their genome. Only a single letter need go wrong to cause a devastating illness. There are about 10,000 known genetic diseases. Although such genetic errors are rare, collectively they are likely to affect tens of millions of people around the world. The more common genetic diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, haemophilia and sickle-cell anaemia, are receiving attention from pharmaceutical firms. The really rare ones, like Lydia’s, are not.

Written: Thursday January 2nd, 2:30pm 2020