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May 28, 1977 - Image 1

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1977-05-28

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The Michigan Daily
Vol LXXXVII, No. 19-S Ann Arbor, Michigan-Saturday, May 28, 1977 Ten Cents Twelve Pages
Researchers stud DNA mystery

A year ago this month the Regents
gave their approval for recombinant
DNA research at the University. Since
then, several University researchers have
been performing recombinant DNA ex-
periments in an attempt to answer some
of the biologicalquestions which have
continually baffled scientists.
Basically, recombinant DNA research
involves combining the genes of one or-
ganism with those of another-to create
a new life form which does not breed
THE PURPOSE of this procedure is
to isolate specific genes and transfer
them into another organism in order to
observe the particular gene's effect on
the organism. Previously, it was impos-
sible to study individual genes or even
sets of genes because of the complex
structure of the chromosomes.'
Recently questions have been raised,
over the safety of such research-whether
scientists might produce a new organism

that could prove harmful to the environ-
Dr.,Roy Schmickel, professor of pedia-
trics and communicable diseases at the
Univeristy's Medical School, said he feels
there is little cause for concern about
the possibility of some new, destructive
life-form escaping from the lab. "Theo-
retically, the potential is there to make
new life, and that's what people are
worrying about. But that kind of thing is
not included in any research now."
SCHMICKEL is currently involved in
studying the organization of a single
human gene, a project which was im-
possible before the advent of recombi-
nant DNA research.
- "Humans have DNA for six million
genes and it's hopeless to try to study
one gene- in that complicated mix," he
explained. "But, if you take the gene and
put it in a simple environment such as
a phage (form) which has only 30 genes,
it's easy to study."
Schmickel said he hopes his research

will eventually help to at least reduce,
the incidence of human genetic diseases.
"My question is, why are chromosmal
diseases in humans so common?"
SCHMICKEL would like to discover
why, for example, older women give birth
to a higher percentage of children suf-
fering from Down's syndrome (Mon-
galism), a genetic disease causing re-
"It's not something that just happens
randomly," Schmickel said, "the process
can be slowed down or reversed. That's
the rationale for doing the research."
Two other researchers, Dr. Robert
Helling, associate professor of biology,
and assistant research scientist Margaret
Lomax are using DNA technology to
study the process of photosynthesis in
THE RESEARCHERS- are studying
genes located in the chloroplasts of a
green algae. First, they must isolate the
chloroplast from the cell and then the
DNA from the chloroplast. The DNA is

then cut with an enzyme and the frag-
ments are spliced into Ecoli, a form of
bacteria often used in research. The bac-
teria then begins to grow, allowing the
chloroplast genes to be easily studied.
Lomax explained her attitude towarc
the research, "We look at it in terms o1
increasing our knowledge of a more
complex cell. Also, we don't know a lot
about the process of photosynthesis, and
it's obviously an important process. Trap
ping light and converting it to energy is
essential to life on Earth."
University researchers currently oper
ate under guidelines suggested by the
National Institute of Health. These guide
lines specify the four levels of risk it
recombinant DNA experimentation.
THE P-S and P-2 levels are relatively
safe. Experiments of this degree car
proceed under normal laboratory condi
tions without taking special precautions
P-3 level research has been proposer
and approved at the University, pending
the renovation of two labs to meet highet
See 'U', Page 5

Dutch police key on train
ASSEN, The Netherlands I) - Heavily-armed Dutch troops
and police turned their attention to South Moluccan extremists-
holding 55 hostages on a sweltering train following the release of M ,5
105 children from a village schoolhouse earlier yesterday. Four* s ss
other hostages, all teachers, remained captive in the school.
Reporters heard what sounded like two rifle shots fired from Vt
one direction of the train but there was no immediate explanation
of what caused it. The reporters said they saw the terrorists shak s
ing out blankets and throwing out garbage about the time the 9
sounds were heard.
THE SOUTH Moluccans, -=ho want the Dutch government to
press their demands f=r the independence of their Pacific island
from Indonesia, have askced the release of 25 fellow extremists
jailed for terrorist actisities and a jumbo jet to take them -
and a group of hostages - to an undisclosed location.
Dutch Prime Minister, Joop den Uyl told a news conference
the situation at the train was "still very serious" despite the en-
couraging release of the schoolchildren.
Den Uyl reiterated the go-ernment is not negotiating with the
extremists and will not agree to hostages being transported out of
the country.
POLICE and troops, back-d by machine gun-mounted armor-
ed personnel carriers equipped .with infrared night sights, have
encircled the commuter train in flat lush farmland 10 miles north
of this town where seven South Moluccans hold 55 hostages.
The inner security ringe is three quarters of a mile from
the four car blue and yellow train. y
Patrols, including sharpshooters, are stationed in woods on
the outer ring.
Among the hostages on the train are 20 women and 35 men,
including at least seven teen aged students and a pregnant wo-
man suffering from thyroid trouble. Officials say she is being
provided with regular m]dication. v
"IMAGINE yourself in a metal box, in the hot sun. The tem-
perature must have risen to at least 30 degrees Centigrade (104
Fahrenheit). The windows are closed all day," said one railway
official describing the situation inside the train.
The terrorists on the train, one of them a woman, seem more
edgy than those in the scho.l and on Wednesday and Thursday
displayed some of their bound hostages, blindfolded and dressed
in white - the Orient'i color of mourning. After refusing any
supplies for over S hours, the group accepted hot meals, fruit
yogurt and even clean underwear on Thursday.
In the nearby villa,,e of Bovensmilde, where four teachers
including two women - are still held, 76 of -the released children
were reunited with their families. Twenty-six others remained in
hospitals for examination after they developed stomach ailments Dily Photo by ALAN BILINSKY
that led to their release. Farew ellsm y
BUT WILE the release of the children - and one teacher-F
eased the suspense in this town, bitterness continued among the If you used to use this decorative entance to Waterman / Barbour gymnasium, take a
area's Dutch toward South Moluccans who have settled herey
"We've been terrorized and we've had enough," said one old good long look. The doorway gets the wrecking ball today as the demolition of the structure
farmer, Janus Jansen, pointing to heavy security which divides continues
See POLICE, Page 4

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