Could we use gene therapy to enhance cognition?

30 October 2011

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Question

Is it possible to use gene and/or stem cell therapies to enhance the thinking capacities of the brain?

Answer

Simon - I think that would be a very exciting idea and I think there's been a film about it recently, Planet of the Apes. But really, even in the simplest of genetic diseases, what we're learning is that we don't understand everything about the pathology and how the genetic mutation makes the disease. And so, as I mentioned about glucocerebrosidase deficiency [Gaucher's disease] we find actually that it's a very complex disease even though it's just one gene missing. And so therefore, there are many, many different genes that are contributing to different aspects of thought and I don't think we'd even know where to start in terms of enhancement of thinking.

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