DNA Makes Treatment Personal

Business May 30, 2010

Have you ever been sick, and it took the doctor a few tries to correctly diagnose you? Or had to try a few different treatments before finding one that worked? Ya-xiong Tao wants to change all that with “personalized medicine”. He’s working towards a future in which you’ll be able to come into a doctor’s office, have your individual DNA analyzed, and be treated based on the gene mutations found in your body.

It sounds like science fiction, but Tao is well underway, with dozens of articles published in highly prestigious medical journals. Right now he and his team are focusing on obese children with poor appetite control. You’ve seen the pictures of rotund 5-year-olds who can’t seem to stop eating. Apparently the problem’s genetic—their brain literally never gets the signal that the body is full. Tao’s pinpointed several mutations that result in this malady, and has been able to successfully use gene therapy to correct the problem on a cellular level. Now his team is working with mice as a precursor to finding cures and solutions for humans.

Principal Investigator

Dr. Ya-xiong Tao

Associate Professor of Physiology. Dr. Tao joined the College of Veterinary Medicine in 2004. He obtained his PhD from the Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.  He did post-doctoral training at the University of Louisville with Dr. Ch. V. Rao and at the University of Iowa with Dr. Deborah L. Segaloff.  He was Assistant Research Scientist at the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine before coming to Auburn.

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