New advancements in biotechnology


Biotechnology has been making many advancements this year. This year brought new autism blood testing along with a new therapy for patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Both are expected to start taking place as soon as the end of this month.

For University of San Diego students that have family members with any of these unfortunate diagnoses, it means local treatment that is of higher quality.

San Diego’s Pediatric Bioscience is preparing to sell a blood test that would detect autism in one of its most common forms, which is called maternal autoantibody-related autism.

The blood test would be able to detect the antibodies in a woman’s blood that causes this strain of autism.
This new test could lead to improvements in the care and prevention of autism since the care for this disorder is most effective when started as early as possible.

Sophomore Meagan Sherrington highlights the drawbacks of this advancement.

“A lot of debate in the bio world is going on about whether people should know what they are predisposed to because it can cause decisions to be made that would not be made otherwise and the results can change the way you live your life,” Sherrington said.

When brought to market, the test will cost about $1,000, and will be partially subsidized for women who cannot afford to pay such a steep cost.

It is expected that after continuing experiments and research, insurance companies will play a part in the payment of the test.

Parkinson’s therapy has recently made a breakthrough and the research is expected to receive approval in Australia as soon as this month.

Australia was chosen over America’s own Federal Drug Administration because the FDA tends to give definitive answers and the process for choosing prospective patients is tedious and slow.

Sophomore Noelle Souza has a family background in medicine as her mom and grandmother are both nurses.
“I feel like this could have been taken care of already with all the advancements in medicine,” Souza said. “It is sad that we have to export our Parkinson’s therapy to Australia.”

The process includes growing stem cells that can mature into the cells needed for the brain to produce dopamine, which is lacking in Parkinson’s patients.

The stem cells will be transplanted into the patient’s brain and it will lead to restored dopamine production and normal bodily movement.

Prior to this treatment, another one was tested that had mixed results.

Some patients improved, some stayed the same and others got even worse due to what researchers believe was an overload of dopamine.
The treatment consisted of transplanting fetal brain cells into the brains of Parkinson’s patients. This new treatment has had much more success.

It has been tested on monkeys and researchers have found that the new stem cells tend to generate the appropriate amount of dopamine needed for normal bodily functions, which leads to the belief that the implanted stem cells and the monkey brains communicate normally.

A similar effort is taking place at The Scripps Research Institute and Scripps Health.

Their research includes the use of artificial embryonic stem cells, however their research could take up to two years to enter into therapy while the Australian therapy will most likely be put into action much sooner.