How the genetic mutation that leads to blindness can also increase intelligence

How the genetic mutation that leads to blindness can also increase intelligence

It’s common to get familiar with your question: Would you exchange a physical attribute such as beauty for additional IQ points? What has always seemed completely hypothetical could very well be true if the startling claim turns out to be true. In this case, what can be abandoned is not good looks, but the ability to see. The genetic variation in question causes a rare form of blindness.

The CORD7 mutation (cone dystrophy 7) in RIMS1 The gene is just one of many rare alterations in the human genetic code that can blind us. However, researchers at the Universities of Würzburg and Leipzig were shocked by reports that people with this condition score unusually well on verbal intelligence tests.

A team led by Professors Tobias Langenhan and Manfred Heckmann report in the journal Brain that the mutation changes the way brain cells communicate with each other, providing a biological basis for the reports.

The adaptability of the brain has been a major area of ​​research in recent years, most famously in the way in which people who lose a sense of humor develop compensatory power in others. However, according to a research paper read by Langenhan and Heckmann, there is more to this in the case of CORD7 mutations. Vision loss does not begin until middle age, yet people with the mutation show exceptional intelligence as children.

“It is very rare for a boom to lead to improvement rather than job loss,” Langenhan said in a statement. Moreover, while we know some genetic variations that provide advantages to aspects of the body such as the digestive system and the immune system, nothing has been found equivalent to the brain, despite the false claims being promoted racist realists White fanatics.

Thus, if what has been said about CORD7 is true, it is the first, making this a strong case of “extraordinary claims in need of extraordinary evidence”. It is difficult to obtain this evidence by studying humans alone. You will not obtain ethical approval to conduct a randomized controlled trial that would blind people even if genetic engineering technology and consent were available.

However, CORD7 affects the synapses that pass messages between neurons, and Langenhan and Heckmann have been studying synapses in fruit flies for years. Upon investigation, they found that the gene that CORD7 affects has a counterpart in flies. CRISPR technology gave the pair the opportunity to mutate the flies and observe the results.

Verbal intelligence tests for Drosophila would be futile, but Langenhan said, “Our assumption was that the mutation makes patients very smart because it improves communication between neurons that includes the affected protein.” , the effects should be detectable in the brains of the simplest insects.

“We have already observed that animals with the mutation showed increased transmission of information at their synapses. Perhaps this striking effect exists on the fly’s synapses in the same or similar way in human patients, and it could explain their increased cognitive performance, as well as their blindness,” Langenhan said.

The mutation appears to cause components of the neurotransmitter to accumulate and release more neurotransmitters. It’s the molecular equivalent of a person at a party approaching and yelling loudly – great for getting the message across through the interfering noise, but there is a price to pay. In this case, this price comes as damage to the receptor cells in the retina.

If the work is right, it leads to some rather crucial questions: Can the CORD7 mutation be modified so that we can enhance the intelligence of humans while preserving our eyesight? If possible, would it be ethical to do so? It may be a long time before we get an answer to the first question, but we may need it to think about the second.

2022-05-12 08:49:00

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