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Gene Therapy for Hemophilia By: Tyler Ricchiuto

Luminous Cells by Filter Forge, https://www.flickr.com/photos/93421824@N06/8496543127 (CC by 2.0)

Gene therapy is not a new idea or treatment, it has been attempted many times, by many people. Gene therapy is the experimental way of using genes to prevent or treat different types of diseases. Now, this technique can be traced back to 1980 but wasn't successfully done until 1989 by the National Institute of Health. To put this technique into basic terms, there are two different procedures. One procedure is to inject or take a biopsy and put a new protein that will replace the old protein to cure said disease. The second method is to try and edit the existing protein in the body to cure said disease. In most cases the way of administering the protein, that will either replace or edit your DNA, is by pairing the protein with a virus.

(DNA by PublicDomainPictures, https://pixabay.com/en/dna-biology-medicine-gene-163466/)

Although this technological development isn't very new to the medical industry in general, it is to one specific disease, and to me. This disease is Hemophilia, an inherited or spontaneous mutation disease that makes the body not be able to produce a specific type of factor. These factors are what makes your blood clot and stop bleeding when you have a cut, or something bigger. There are a few different types of Hemophilia like Hemophilia A or B. Hemophilia A is related to Factor #8, and B is related to Factor #9. I have Hemophilia B, severe to be exact. Besides just A and B there are also levels depending on how much you are affected. Also, I was whats considered a spontaneous mutation, meaning that there were no cases before in my family history, and it just happened by the DNA mutating to not create this Factor. For every 5,000 live births there is one person born with Hemophilia, multiply that with the fact that only 1/3 of cases are mutations and I had a 0.006% chance of getting Hemophilia, if I did my math right.

The release of widespread gene therapy for all Hemophiliacs is on the horizon, but it is difficult. Even if you have the resources and scientists to be able to create this gene therapy technology, you must face the wrath of the FDA. You must go through many successful trials, which takes a long time before it being released to the public. Although this process is very difficult to pass, a few different companies are going through it at this moment, and the statistics are quite promising. According to these results, if I was given this "cure", I still may need to have some BeneFix on hand. BeneFix is the type of Factor that I inject twice a week. Not only is the gene therapy practical for not needing to take my medicine at all or only at certain times, it is also cost effective for insurance and the user. The estimated value of this one-time gene therapy "cure" is around 1 million dollars. Although to many of you this may seem ridiculously expensive, which of course it is, the usual annual value of my medicine is $250,000 without the calculation of any medical bills due to my disease, which thankfully I haven't had many. So within only four years or potentially less that 1 million will pay off.

(DNA Lab by UMichigan, https://www.flickr.com/photos/26835854@N07/6800805626 (CC by 2.0))

One of the 13 people with severe Hemophilia B said this months after being in the gene therapy study. "The first time I noticed a difference was about four months after the treatment when I dropped a weight in the gym, bashing my elbow really badly," explains Omer. "I started to panic thinking this is going to be really bad, but after icing it that night I woke up and it looked normal. That was the moment I saw proof and knew that the gene therapy had worked." (New Atlas)

There are only a few setbacks to this advancement. One is that in the beginning of trials many people immune systems had destroyed the protein and made the therapy not work. The other is that with some, their liver enzyme levels increased, but both of these issues have been solved in the newest trials.

Injury Proof Cars by Volvo

(Volvo by carlos4916, https://pixabay.com/en/volvo-v90-auto-car-automobile-2396037/)

XC60 by JulieDrost, https://unsplash.com/photos/dii24lwkpXk

Volvo has been making high-quality vehicles since their first manufacturing plant in 1927. Volvo has also grown with many new technological advances including auto-brakes, lane departure warnings, and partly autonomous driving. But recently Volvo stretched their limits and made a very bold claim. Volvo claimed that by 2020, they would have injury free vehicles, or very close. They claimed that in 2020, their vehicles and the drivers in those vehicles will never experience a fatality or any serious injury. Now we have all known that Volvo has been at the forefront of safety for many years, but this claim will definitely put them at the top of the list for any scared parents.

Many new features in new Volvo's and other car companies such as Tesla, Mercedes, BMW and many more have been saving many lives. Volvo's engineers even track the total amounts of crashes and fatalities that year so they can really understand which safety features work the best. One feature has been found to be very effective, "Radar, cameras or other sensors detect obstacles ahead and warn the driver. If the driver still doesn't react, the car can apply the brakes automatically to avoid, or at least reduce, the impact of a crash. In the United States, auto safety regulators have found this technology particularly effective in reducing crashes." (CNN). Although many of these features have been found to be very useful there is one thing CNN writer Peter Valdes-Dapena knows, "There is one big caveat. If someone really wants to hurt themselves, or is just really, really stupid... well, Volvo can't do anything about that." (CNN).

(V40 Night Shot by JulianKlumpers, https://unsplash.com/photos/uKWUAWG5n5U)

Volvo has been developing and researching on their zero death car since 2012. Volvo spokesman Jim Trainor has even gone as far as saying, "The long term vision is that cars shouldn't crash." (DailyMail).

Volvo has even started to go into Artificial Intelligence into their vehicles, "the XC90 takes auto­­mation a step further, into the realm of artificial intelligence. It has software that learns your driving tendencies and, by monitoring your steering, braking, and acceleration patterns can catch your mistakes before they turn deadly. The car compares your behavior to previous drives. So, if you start jerking the wheel, the center console will flash a text warning advising you to take a break." (PopSci). The idea of fully autonomous and zero death cars is a little controversial as some do not believe in the technology of these companies and they trust themselves more, as I feel like I would in the beginning. Also many believe that these additions take away the fun of driving, and while maybe it does a little because some features cannot be turned off, many can be if you so choose to do so. The addition of Artificial Intelligence is a whole different issue. Now with it just being able to monitor your habits and to act before you do, this isn't so bad. But we may be getting to the point of where we are with technology like the Amazon Alexa, and how it listens to everything you say.

Created By
Tyler Ricchiuto
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Created with images by Filter Forge - "Luminous Cells" • umseas - "DNA lab" • carlos4916 - "volvo v90 auto"

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