Saturday, August 11, 2012

Finding the gene

"Finding the gene [the CF gene] was the result of enlightened leadership, incredibly dedicated scientists, technology and yes--I smiled, a vast army of creative and committed fundraisers. Terry and I, our family and friends could be proud of the fact that we had played a part in the search through six billion base pairs that make up our genes to find the one that caused cystic fibrosis. It had taken in excess of $60 million but we had done it. We had helped raise the funds that had enabled researchers to identify this single elusive piece of DNA--250,000 base pairs long. The scientists, fueled on by All Sports Balls and other similar events around the United States, had discovered that three missing base pairs caused the gene to create a defective protein that resulted in cystic fibrosis. Together we had found the three in six billion" (emphasis mine) --Don Detrich in The Spirit of Lo

I honestly can't imagine the rush of hope people affected by cystic fibrosis felt when Francis Collins and other scientists found the gene. The gene, that caused many infants who couldn't even walk to cough like an elderly person with emphysema. The gene, that caused malnutrition and frailty, hindering people from growing as they should. The gene, that caused patients and their families expenses too numerous to count, financially, physically, and emotionally.

Finding the CF gene was truly a miracle. I am unable to fully comprehend the hours of research and studying that must have occurred. With six billion base pairs in a human, how incredible is it that scientists found the culprit of CF? Every time I read Don Detrich's account of the day he found out about Francis Collins' finding, I get chills up and down. I can only give praise and glory to God for the miracle of science. God has enabled scientists with the ability to see inside our very beings, to understand a little bit more about how the human body works. He has privileged us with this knowledge--how cool is that?? I am sure the CF community danced with joy when the news was released.

Although many people hoped that a cure would come right after the discovery of the gene, twenty three years later we are still working diligently to find a cure. As the CF foundation's motto states, we will buy the science needed to cure this disease. We "bought" the science needed to find the gene, so to speak, and we will "buy" the research needed to find a cure. I have no doubt about that! Even though the CF population is relatively small, our spirit is stronger than any other. We will fight this disease, together, until it is defeated!

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