Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Studies

A couple fluoroquinolone toxicity studies are being conducted.

Dr. Charles Bennett, a Professor at the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, is conducting a study of genes related to fluoroquinolone toxicity. Dr. Bennett is seeking “floxed” participants in the study. In the “Floxed Friday” newsletter sent out by Michelle Polacinski – Floxie, Director, and Producer of ‘Floxed’ – the following information about how to participate was shared:

This study is open to those who have experienced FQ Toxicity. If you are interested in participating, please send your contact information (name, address, phone #) to abc8@email.sc.edu and please write “FQ Study” in the subject line.

You will receive instructions, a consent form, and a survey to complete. A saliva test kit will then be mailed to you. You will provide your saliva sample, as instructed. Then, you will mail the sample back to the university, as instructed.

This is very exciting! This study has the potential to answer questions about who is predisposed toward fluoroquinolone toxicity, and, as genetic testing gets easier and easier, perhaps it will someday lead to screening tools that will keep doctors from prescribing fluoroquinolones to people who are genetically predisposed toward fluoroquinolone toxicity.

I encourage you all to participate in the study. (FYI – just my personal experience – I emailed my information to the email address provided twice, but have not yet heard back from anyone, so I don’t have any personal experience of this study. I just have heard about it and I’m passing on the information I heard.)

Another study of fluoroquinolones is being conducted by the Mayo Clinic (the branch in Rochester, Minnesota). It is a clinical trial entitled, “A Study to Evaluate Biomarkers of Fluoroquinolone-induced Mitochondrial Toxicity” and more information about it can be found on the Mayo Clinic web page about the study.

Per the clinical trial announcement:

“The purposes of this study are to determine if patients treated with fluoroquinolone (FQ) antibiotics have depletion of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in buccal swab samples, and whether the degree of depletion correlates with the likelihood of developing FQ-associated toxicity.”

This is a very exciting study for the floxed community in a couple ways. First, it is to determine whether or not mtDNA is depleted in humans. Several studies have shown that fluoroquinolones deplete mtDNA in cells studied in labs, but I don’t believe that any studies have shown the depletion of mtDNA in people.

The study requires recent administration of a fluoroquinolone antibiotic (the inclusion criteria includes, “Treatment with oral and/or intravenous FQ antibiotics (ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, delafloxacin) that has been initiated upon, or within 24 hours of, admission to the HIM service or at time of initial Infectious Diseases consultation and lasting > 48 hours.“) so I don’t recommend that any floxed people sign up for it. Some people have expressed dismay over fluoroquinolones being studied by being given to people, and, while I understand the misgivings, fluoroquinolones are given to people all the time and I feel encouraged that there are people who are studying the effects of fluoroquinolones, even if the study requires administering them. I am assuming that the people who are a part of the study will be in-need of antibiotics and that fluoroquinolones would be given to them regardless of whether or not they participate in the study – I at least hope so, because giving these drugs to people who don’t have an infection or other need for them is unethical.

I appreciate the acknowledgement that is implicit in both these studies. In studying both genetic markers and mtDNA depletion as they relate to fluoroquinolone toxicity, fluoroquinolone toxicity is being acknowledged by the scientists and doctors conducting the studies. Acknowledgement is helpful in that it leads to studies which lead to more information which lead to fewer people getting hurt by fluoroquinolones and/or maybe even a cure for fluoroquinolone toxicity. We can at least hope for those things.

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Are Damaged Mitochondria Causing Autoimmune Diseases?

Fluoroquinolone toxicity looks and feels a lot like multiple autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, MS, thyroid autoimmune diseases, and others. Some people have proposed that fluoroquinolone toxicity is its own autoimmune disease, but the auto-antibodies have not yet been identified and thus it is not treated as an independent autoimmune disease. In some people, fluoroquinolones have triggered a recognized autoimmune disease, as you can read about in Michelle’s Story of fluoroquinolone-induced lupus, JMR’s story of fluoroquinolone-induced thyroid autoimmune diseases, and I know a couple people with fluoroquinolone-induced MS.

I have always wondered what the connections are between fluoroquinolone toxicity and autoimmune diseases, whether or not fluoroquinolones are truly triggering autoimmune diseases generally, and what the mechanism is behind the connection.

A recent article in Scientific American, Brain’s Dumped DNA May Lead to Stress, Depression: New research suggests genetic material from the mitochondria can trigger an immune response throughout the body provides some interesting connections (and, dare I say, answers). The article points out that mitochondrial DNA, when it is released from mitochondria, can cause inflammation and an immune response:

“But how was this inflammation triggered by mitochondrial DNA leaking out of cells? A 2010 Nature paper provided the answer: In it researchers demonstrated the way mitochondrial DNA, when released into the blood after an injury, mobilized a pro-inflammatory immune response. Because of mitochondria’s bacterial origin and its circular DNA structure, immune cells think it’s a foreign invader.  When circulating mitochondrial DNA binds to a particular receptor, TLR9, on immune cells, they respond as if they were reacting to a foreign invader such as a flu virus or an infected wound. The immune cells release chemicals called cytokines telling other white blood cells they need to report for duty at sites of infection, inflammation or trauma.”

Multiple studies have shown that fluoroquinolones disrupt the replication and reproduction cycles of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and deplete mtDNA. Of course they do – mitochondria are descendants of bacteria and drugs that affect bacterial DNA have similar effects on mtDNA. The way that fluoroquinolones work is that they disrupt the DNA and RNA replication cycles for bacteria (and mitochondria).

When mitochondrial DNA is released via fluoroquinolones (or a variety of other pharmaceuticals and environmental toxins that also damage mitochondria) the immune system attacks it because it appears to the immune system to be bacterial DNA. This attack of loose mtDNA can lead to an immune-system over-response, and even trigger an autoimmune disease.

The Scientific American article also notes that:

“The genetic cast-offs are not just inert cellular waste. “This circulating mitochondrial DNA acts like a hormone,” says Martin Picard, a psychobiologist at Columbia University, who has been studying mitochondrial behavior and the cell-free mitochondrial DNA for the better part of the last decade. Ejection of mitochondrial DNA from the cell mimics somewhat adrenal glands’ release of cortisol in response to stress, he says. Certain cells produce the circulating mitochondrial DNA and, as with the adrenal glands, its release is also triggered by stress.”

To emphasize – “circulating mitochondrial DNA acts like a hormone” that “mimics somewhat adrenal glands’ release of cortisol in response to stress.” So many people suffering from fluoroquinolone toxicity are in vicious cycles of chronic stress and anxiety that are wreaking further havoc on their health. The post, “Cellular Stress, Chronic Stress, and Fluoroquinolone Toxicity” goes into more detail about the connections between stress and anxiety and fluoroquinolone toxicity.

Fluoroquinolones aren’t the only toxins that damage mtDNA. The list of pharmaceuticals that damage mtDNA include all bactericidal antibiotics (including fluoroquinolones) (1), statins (2), chemotherapy drugs (3), acetaminophen (4), metformin (a diabetes drug) (5), and others. The environmental pollutants that have been shown to damage mitochondria include rotenone, cyanide, lipopolysaccharide, PAH quinones, arsenic, and many others (6).

I would bet quite a bit that the rise in autoimmune diseases corresponds with the rise in production of pharmaceuticals, pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals that are toxic to mitochondria. The Scientific American article, Brain’s Dumped DNA May Lead to Stress, Depression: New research suggests genetic material from the mitochondria can trigger an immune response throughout the body, provides some valuable connections that point in that direction, and I would love to see more research on the topic.

 

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Patience and Kindness

Perhaps it’s because of the winter solstice dark and cold, or because 2019 was a particularly bad year for some people, or because being floxed SUCKS, or because of fear, or because nuance can be difficult to convey via the internet, or because of a million other potential reasons for ill moods, but it seems to me that people have been particularly impatient, rude, and even hateful on the floxie facebook pages and groups–including the floxie hope page and the fluoroquinolone wall of pain page, both of which I manage. I’m pretty decent at ignoring unpleasant things and avoiding confrontation, but the comments that are mean-spirited are starting to bother me. Perhaps in recognition of the holiday spirit or the change of the year (and decade), I would like to make a request – can y’all please be nice?

No one knows the perfect way to go through fluoroquinolone toxicity. No one knows the correct way to cure this. Everyone is experimenting and trying their best. Some people try things that they hope will be helpful or curative that have hurt others. The people who try these things are not stupid or trying to rub an adverse reaction in anyone else’s face. Sometimes knowledge of best practices shifts and what someone tried years ago is now known to hurt floxies. It stinks, but it happens. There’s no need to belittle people for what they tried years ago – or what they tried yesterday. People are doing their best to heal with the information they have. Feel free to give more information, but I would like to ask people to please be thoughtful when “correcting” others.

A common criticism on the floxie hope facebook page is that posts are old. Yup – some of them are. This site has been around for 6.5 years – since June, 2013. I put older posts up on the floxie hope facebook page because I figure that some people will still get value out of the posts. I sincerely hope that they are helpful, hopeful, or otherwise valuable to some of the people who see them. I also don’t think that 6 years is that long, or that a 6-year-old post is less valuable than a 6-hour-old post. However, if some of the information is out-dated or incorrect, I apologize. I did the best I could at the time I wrote each post, and I’m still doing my best now. I try to post accurate and backed-up information, but sometimes I’m wrong about an assertion. It happens. I’m a blogger. This site is my blog, not a peer-reviewed journal. I have always tried my best to be correct, but I don’t have the resources to verify any of my assertions about the causes or effects of fluoroquinolone, so please take everything I write with that grain of salt.

I also put up old posts because, frankly, I’ve gotten tired of doing fluoroquinolone research, putting together pieces of information from various sources, and formulating thoughtful and informative posts. I don’t have the emotional or intellectual energy to do that like I used to. I apologize. I wish I still had that energy and passion. But, to be honest, it has waned. I miss the passion that I once had, and I feel like the posts I have written in the last year-ish are not particularly inspired (or interesting). I would LOVE to have thought-provoking, interesting, inspired, passionate posts on this site, and I invite anyone who is interested in putting a post on floxiehope.com to send me what they’d like to post. This site has a decent-sized audience and it’s a good way to say what you want to say about fluoroquiolone toxicity to the community. Please let me know if you’re interested in writing for floxiehope.com (through either clicking THIS LINK or on the pic below).

One more thing that is a bit tangential – Facebook is cracking down on a lot of sites and groups, and I hope that the fluoroquinolone toxicity community on Facebook doesn’t get hurt by the crackdowns. I don’t think I’m breaking any FB rules, but even without thinking I’m breaking any rules, I’m still having some issues. This notice is currently on the fluoroquinolone wall of pain facebook admin page:

I clicked on the “learn more” link and, as far as I can tell, all rules have been followed. But maybe I did something inadvertently that was against facebook’s rules. Or, maybe they’re wrong. Either way, facebook has a massive amount of power to affect our reach and our ability to spread the word about fluoroquinolone toxicity, and if they shut down the pages and groups related to fluoroquinolone toxicity, well, that will be an awful shame. Facebook has facilitated the growth of this community (as I’m writing this, the Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Group on Facebook has 10,761 members). It has facilitated people sharing information about this illness, recovery, coping, etc. I am grateful to Facebook for all that it has offered. But what it gives, it can take away. I’m slightly worried that a wrong move can result in the disillusion of a major meeting-ground for floxies. I hope that we can continue to use facebook, and it would be a shame if we couldn’t and had to start over on a different platform. If you have a problem with something that is posted on the floxie hope facebook page or the fluoroquinolone wall of pain facebook page, please contact me rather than reporting it to facebook. Maybe then we can stay in their good graces.

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Mitochondria Summit

I just had surgery (just a couple hours ago as I write this), so this post is going to be short and sparse. BUT, I wanted to let you all know that there is a summit about Mitochondria that is happening THIS WEEK (December 9-15). You can access it through clicking on the image above, or through THIS LINK.

Fluoroquinolones damage mitochondria, and have been shown to deplete mitochondrial DNA. More information about the damage done to mitochondria (the energy-producing organelles of our cells) can be found in these posts:

Study Finds that Ciprofloxacin Depletes Mitochondrial DNA

New Study Finds that Ciprofloxacin Depletes Mitochondrial DNA

More posts about how fluoroquinolones damage mitochondria can be found through doing a search for mitochondria on floxiehope.com, and through searching for “mitochondria” on the links & resources page where you can find media and journal articles about the effects of fluoroquinolones on mitochondria.

In their April 27, 2013 Pharmacovigilance Review, “Disabling Peripheral Neuropathy Associated with Systemic Fluoroquinolone Exposure,” the FDA describes the damage done to mitochondria by fluoroquinolones:

Ciprofloxacin has been found to affect mammalian topoisomerase II, especially in mitochondria. In vitro studies in drug-treated mammalian cells found that nalidixic acid and ciprofloxacin cause a loss of motichondrial DNA (mtDNA), resulting in a decrease of mitochondrial respiration and an arrest in cell growth. Further analysis found protein-linked double-stranded DNA breaks in the mtDNA from ciprofloxacin-treated cells, suggesting that ciprofloxacin was targeting topoisomerase II activity in the mitochondria.

The FDA Pharmacovigilance Report also notes that mitochondrial damage (and the ensuing oxidative stress that occurs when mitochondria are damaged) is related to multi-symptom, chronic diseases like optic neuropathy, neuropathic pain, hearing loss, muscle weakness, cardiomyopathy, lactic acidosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

I am excited to hear what the mitochondria experts featured in the Summit have to say about healing mitochondria, possibly un-doing the damage done by fluoroquinolones, and maybe even how to prevent the diseases associated with damaged and depleted mitochondria.

One of the featured speakers is Dr. Terry Wahls, author of The Wahls Protocol, that has helped many floxies including Renee and Jamieson. You can read Renee’s story HERE and you can listen to her podcast HERE and you can read Jamieson’s story HERE. Dr. Wahls was also featured on The Floxie Hope Podcast and you can listen to her interview HERE.

I’m also excited to hear Bridgit Danner, LAc, FDNP discuss the effects of toxic mold on mitochondria, and to hear Michelle Sands, ND discuss the hormone-mitochondria connection, and to hear Jason Prall discuss microbiota-mitochondria communication, and to hear what many more wonderful speakers have to say about mitochondria.

I look forward to spending the next couple days relaxing, recuperating, and recovering from my surgery while learning lots about mitochondria.

I think it will be helpful for floxies, and give insight into healing our mitochondria. It’s THIS WEEK – please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. We can all learn together. 🙂

Floxed Friday – Why Don’t You Sue?

Every Friday Michelle Polacinski, a Floxie as well as the Director and Producer of ‘Floxed,’ sends out a newsletter to those who have subscribed to the ‘Floxed’ newsletter. The Floxed Friday updates are always interesting and thoughtful, and Michelle has given me permission to share them here. 
 
If you would like to receive the Floxed Friday updates directly from Michelle, please subscribe to the Floxed Documentary email list. You can subscribe through THIS LINK. Subscribing also helps Michelle to gain funding for the Floxed Documentary, and she doesn’t send out spam. 
 
The following was written by Michelle: 

I’m writing this next to a large window and a view of falling snowflakes, gently floating down to the ground below, causing accidents and exciting skiers everywhere.

Skiing is a big, big deal for me. I learned when I was 4 years old in the middle of the woods in Upstate New York. My dad, a trophy-winning freestyle skier, known for his backflips and helicopters, gave me a pair of used thrift store Rossignols with the chickens at the top and gave me poles meant for a much taller child as we hopped over sticks and fallen trees together.

After racing on a team in high school and teaching skiing for 6 seasons, it’s easy to see that I’m enamored with the sport.

Skiing was and still is one of my favorite activities. When I was floxed, I couldn’t walk or hike for awhile. I was one of those floxies who crawled to the bathroom and lost 20 pounds in merely weeks.

I was no professional athlete floxie, but come winter, I was terrified that I would never ski again.

I was one of the lucky ones. While many floxies remain forever disabled, forever unable to walk again or run again, I got better and could ski again. To be fair, skiing is not a tendon-heavy sport, so it was easier to get back into it than, say, rock climbing or weight lifting or running or whatever other people do to stay fit.

I’m not bragging about it at all, but I was able to go backcountry skiing a couple days ago after we got a huge snowstorm and discussed my *former* disability with another skier I met there.

“Why don’t you sue?”

He actually didn’t ask me that question, but most people do when I talk about getting floxed. The answer is a complex one.

Many have tried and many have failed to win, including successful lawyers with floxed loved ones or doctors who have been floxed themselves. Lawsuits, including class action ones, have come and gone since the late 70’s, but fluoroquinolone antibiotics are still on the market because “there is enough warning for patients,” and “look at all those black box warnings!”

We disagree. We think that there needs to be much more education about Fluoroquinolone Toxicity, for medical professionals especially, but also better informed consent for patients.

It’s easy to blame the doctor who prescribed the antibiotic, but the fact of the matter is that many doctors are not adequately warned of the risks themselves. Doctors, like Mark Ghalili, DO, have been floxed. If that’s not an example that they are not properly informed, I don’t know what is. Today, Fluoroquinolone Toxicity is regularly taught in medical schools all over the USA, but I want it to be a mandatory lesson.

It’s regular practice for pharmacy technicians to remove the lists of warnings and pamphlets about the drug in order for it to be “easier” for patients, or so they say.

Who is to blame, really? Is it the drug itself? The drug had no intention. It’s an object, a creation. Is it pharmaceutical companies? Pharmacists? Investors?

Many floxies choose to blame themselves. “I shouldn’t have taken that drug,” they lament. “It probably happened because I’m too old, I was too sick, I took ibuprofen for a headache, I didn’t read the pamphlet, I have the MTHFR gene, I didn’t Google it, etc. etc. etc.”

It’s easy to blame the victim, even when the victim is never at fault . . . so who is to blame?

Instead of focusing on the blame, I’m focusing on solutions. Our team is focusing on how we can end this floxie epidemic once-and-for-all, with adequate educational campaigns and, hopefully, a huge, awesome documentary. Let us know if you want to help with the campaign and we’ll add you to a list for when the time comes.

Look out for YET ANOTHER podcast (originally recorded in June, I think!) coming out next week. We talk about how I became a filmmaker and get a little more into what it’s like to work in the film industry.

Have a great weekend and thank you for your continued support!

Best,

Michelle
Floxie, Director, and Producer of ‘Floxed’
#nonewfloxies #floxeddoc

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Your Illness is Not Your Fault

In my recent post (“Reluctantly Going to the Doctor“) I wrote about getting a minor surgery to address an “issue” and I had a couple more things I wanted to say about it.

When my issue was getting addressed, I asked the doctor if there was anything I could do to avoid having the same issue in the future. He said that it’s just one of those things that happens, and that there’s nothing that anyone can do to avoid it. It wasn’t because of anything I ate, or did, or didn’t do – it was just one of those things that happens. Hopefully it won’t happen again, but if it does, I know who to visit to get it take care of.

Hearing “it’s just one of those things that happens” was actually really nice and refreshing. Even though he didn’t explicitly say it, I heard, “it’s not your fault,” and that future issues wouldn’t be my fault either. It just happens. Sometimes parts of the body malfunction.

For those of us with fluoroquinolone toxicity, we know what caused our issues. They didn’t “just happen.” We were poisoned. And the answer to the question of what can be done to avoid fluoroquinolone toxicity is simple – don’t take fluoroquinolones.

With any sort of difficult-to-treat illness, there are always guesses regarding what to do, how to treat the illness, and how to prevent symptoms in the future. This site is filled with advice around all those questions. Every person who has written about their experience and shared their input regarding dealing with fluoroquinolone toxicity has meant well and has wanted to help, and the stories of hope and healing on this site have helped thousands of people through fluoroquinolone toxicity. But I worry about that line between suggesting things that are healing and blaming people who don’t do the things that are supposed to be healing. Not healing from fluoroquinolone toxicity doesn’t mean that you haven’t eaten the right things, or that you haven’t gotten the right treatments, or that you haven’t spent enough money. Fluoroquinolone toxicity happens first and foremost because people are exposed to fluoroquinolones, but symptoms persist because of all sorts of reasons, most of which are mysterious. Healing happens too, and we can point to reasons and ways that we think our body has healed, but the truth is that healing is mysterious too. Healing happens. The body has amazing healing capacity. But sometimes it doesn’t.

Neither are your fault. No matter what you ate, or what you drank, or what pre-existing health issues you had when you got floxed, or how your infection happened, or any other life factor, your illness is not your fault.

Of course I hope that you find healing. I hope that you find some tools that help you to heal too, and I hope that this site helps you to identify those tools. But if you don’t find the things that help, or if your body just doesn’t heal, it’s not your fault.

I think that letting go of anger and self-blame is healing, and I hope that this post helps some people to stop blaming themselves for their illness. I know that I dealt with a lot of guilt and self-blame in my journey through fluoroquinolone toxicity, and I hope that hearing, IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT, helps someone through their journey.

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I wrote the above paragraphs in early November 2019 and a few things have happened to me health-wise since. The issue that I had a minor surgery for didn’t heal properly, and now I have to have a more major surgery. The next surgery will involve general anesthesia, and a few weeks of recovery time. I’ve never been a fan of general anesthesia, and have always considered it to be a bit scary. Fluoroquinolone toxicity adds to my fear of it. If any of you have advice for going through surgery post-flox, or anesthesia, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Thank you!

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Unnatural Selection

I’m watching the Netflix series Unnatural Selection right now (as of typing this, I’m watching episode 2 of season 1). It’s about genetic editing through CRISPR-Cas9 and it is fascinating. Whether you love or hate the thought of genetic engineering, the age of it is here, and I highly recommend that you watch Unnatural Selection to learn more about it. So far, the show is a bit biased toward the possible benefits of genetic editing, and less focused on the potential negative consequences (as I said, I’m only on episode 2), but it is interesting and insightful and thought-provoking, and I recommend it.

I’m sure there is just as much variety in the floxie community as there is in the community at-large regarding genetic engineering, and I certainly don’t think that my views on the topic are representative of those of the floxie community. However, I do think that my personal views on genetic engineering (and all things medical and science related) have been shaped by my experience with fluoroquinolone toxicity.

Fluoroquinolone toxicity is a man-made problem that has no man-made solutions. Many floxed people feel as if they are guinea pigs in an experiment that they unknowingly signed up for. (The post, “The Experiment: Notes from a Reluctant Lab Rat” by floxie friend Jean LeFebvre describes the feeling of being a “reluctant lab rat” of the medical/pharmaceutical industries.) People suffering from fluoroquinolone toxicity know what it is like to be severely negatively affected by an experiment gone awry. We also know what it’s like to realize that there is no way to undo or reverse the damage that has been done to us. It’s unpleasant, to say the least. As CRSPR-cas9 and other similar gene editing technologies are experimentally used on humans those experiment subjects (i.e. people) will likely suffer from side-effects and unintended consequences until the technology is perfected. As with all experiments, things may go wrong, and people may be caused to suffer or die because of the experiments. I suppose that people suffer and die because of current medical experiments too, but with these gene editing technologies the potential exists for future offspring, entire populations, or ecosystems, to be negatively affected. The thought of subjecting people (and other living beings) to suffering and death because of a genetic experiment gone awry is not something that I feel comfortable with at all.

Getting floxed, and subsequently researching the possible mechanisms through which fluoroquinolones hurt people, also made me realize how little we know about the human body. In “Side Effects and Unintended Consequences of Popular Pharmaceuticals” I wrote:

“The more I learned about the complex interactions occurring in my body, the more I realized that the number of unknown factors is far greater than the number of known factors. I realized that, as much as I wanted easy answers and quick solutions, there were none available. Because of the complexity of the human body, as well as individual differences in both genetics and environment, I doubt that easy answers will ever be available. Any one of the many complex systems within the human body can be studied for a lifetime without knowing everything about it. The multiple systems within our bodies are interconnected, difficult to comprehend, poorly understood and truly amazing. Human life is astoundingly, beautifully, mind-bogglingly complex.”

and

“I know that there are some very smart scientists out there; people who are far more intelligent than I, who have a much better grasp of biochemistry – so why aren’t the dangers of fluoroquinolones more well-known? Why aren’t the side-effects entirely predictable? Why did I have to figure out all of this on my own, without help from the physician who prescribed the medication or the physicians I saw post reaction? Sadly, I have come to believe that most physicians and patients alike don’t want to recognize the complexity of human health; preferring instead to believe in our own intellectual supremacy. And as much as I appreciate the scientists who are doing the work on which I have based my assertions, I don’t think that there is anyone who understands the complex biochemical feedback loops sufficiently to guarantee that there won’t be unintended consequences when disrupting part of the system with a pharmaceutical.”

That post was written several years ago, but I still believe those things – we know practically nothing about the human body. The mechanisms of drugs when they have their preferred effects are hardly known, much less the mechanisms of drugs when adverse-reactions are experienced. The complexity of a human is mind-boggling, and we cannot adequately understand the consequences of CRISPR-cas9 or other gene editing technologies.

Whether we can properly understand the consequences or not, the age of genetic editing is here. The technology is available, and it will be used. I hope that it is largely used responsibly.

Though I’m a cautious person, and the precautionary principle is high on my list of guiding principles, I am intrigued by the possibility that gene editing may have positive consequences for many people – including floxies.

What if Cystic Fibrosis, or Tay-Sachs, or Sickle Cell, or Hemophilia, or any of the other horrible genetic-based diseases can be cured through CRISPR-cas9 gene editing? That would be amazing – and few would argue that it wouldn’t be a proper use of this technology.

For floxies, what if there is a specific genetic marker that makes us susceptible to the horrible constellation of symptoms included in fluoroquinolone toxicity? What if floxies have genes that inhibit collagen production, or genes that make us unable to properly absorb cellular magnesium, or genes that make it more difficult for us to metabolize pharmaceutical drugs, or genes that make us more susceptible to autoimmune diseases? If those genes could be identified, and adjusted through CRISPR-cas9, and that could provide a cure…. well…. that would be incredible too.

I obviously have conflicting thoughts and feelings about genetic editing. There is a lot that could go wrong, and many of the things that could go wrong are far-reaching and astronomically consequential. I am inclined toward caution and saying “no” to attempts to solve far-reaching problems with gene editing (not that anyone is asking me). Too much can go wrong when you try to adjust the genes of an entire species.

But on an individual level, I have a hard time saying that we shouldn’t try to “fix” the genetic problems that are causing people pain and suffering. The technology exists, and if pain and suffering can be alleviated with it, I’m certainly not going to argue against that.

Ready or not, the age of genetic editing is here. Hopefully the technology will be used for good, not evil. We shall see.

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