The Benefits of Gene Therapy
What are the Benefits of Gene Therapy?
Gene therapy has a lot of therapeutic potential and, most of all, it aims to cure someone who was born with the genetic disorder have a fighting chance against what otherwise would have been incurable. The human body is susceptible to thousands of diseases. Some of these diseases can be cured using medicines but others are inborn, and, without gene therapy as their only hope to get cured, patients would have to live with that genetic condition for the rest of their lives. We have listed some more specific benefits of Gene Therapy:
Prevention is Better than Cure
Through stringent test, analysis and genetic testing, scientists and doctors can check if there is an anomaly with a person’s DNA and genetic information even before the genetic disorder fully emerge. Gene therapy can be a preventative and proactive approach in rectifying the medical issue found in the patient’s genes. However, Big drug maker companies are doing their best to halt development of gene therapies since think that it will not be a sustainable business model. For them, gene therapy provides one-and-done cure that will not be a good business since they will not be able to sell drugs. Fortunately, there are hundreds of gene therapy companies who are ready and willing to take the challenge head on and continue with their research and development on better ways to improve gene therapy methodologies.
Corrects Birth Defects at Early Onset
In a study by NCBI, newborn babies are the best candidate for gene therapy due to their relatively small size and a large amount of future growth. Once doctors detect abnormalities in the newborn’s genetic makeup he can immediately request a gene therapy to a cure genetic disorder.
A study by March of Dimes estimates that about 8 million babies are born worldwide with gene-rated birth defects. With gene therapy, babies around the world will be healthy and free to live a normal life. Unfortunately, the main challenge Is to have early genetic screening for newborns to detect discrepancies immediately. This process is quite expensive and developing countries at the ones most at risk and missing this opportunity.
Open the Floodgates for New Medical Treatments
Once gene therapy is fully realized and researched, vast opportunities for integration with biomedical engineering, healthcare engineering and other related fields is only an arm’s reach. Consequently, humanity can reach a new era that will revolutionize the current healthcare system.
Gene therapy technique has successfully cured male infertility where DNA is injected into body tissues to replace the abnormal genes causing the sterility. Parents suffering from infertility can turn to gene therapy to cure them and afford them the chance to start procreating and have their own biological offspring.
How Does Gene Therapy Work?
Gene therapy Our DNA is our identity. We are born unique. It used to be accepted that whatever DNA (encodes our genetic information) we inherited from our parents since our birth is unique to us and cannot be altered. However, with the identification of genetic disorders, caused wholly or partially due to an abnormality in genetic material, has pushed scientists to cross the boundaries. Common genetic diseases include as cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, and muscular dystrophy while other diseases such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure are caused by the interaction between genetics and environmental causes. Moreover, disorders that are the main factor for aging is usually the result of a loss in gene activity in some kinds of cells. Also, some strain of infections is also attributed to genes.
Along the way, experts discovered one method to treat the genetic disease by replacing, modifying, or improving a gene that is absent or defective which is called Gene therapy.
A gene is a stretch of DNA required to make a functional organisms like part of or all of a protein group. The average human being has about 100,000 to 150,000 genes in their body composition. During gene therapy, DNA that codes for specific genes are delivered to individual cells in the body.
There are a variety of methods for gene therapy that are categorized as recombinant viruses and Non-viral methods. To provide you with an idea of how gene therapy works, We will tackle how a recombinant virus works:
- A person is diagnosed with a brain tumor that is caused by the creation and spread of cancer cells.
- This tumor is formed due to an abnormal and mutating gene.
- Gene therapy is applied, and the recombinant virus chosen is encephalitis viruses.
- The encephalitis virus had its virulence abolished and it is now non-threatening.
- The virus can still penetrate genetic material into target genes.
- In order to replicate additional copies of the virus, it is first inserted into mouse cells.
- The mouse cells are now synthesized with the virus.
- The mouse cells which carries the virus are then injected into the brain containing the tumor.
- The virus seeks out of the tumor inducing cells and conquers them.
- The tumor will now start to produce encephalitis enzymes because the virus, through the mouse cells, has inserted its genetic makeup into the tumor cells.
- A physician can now recommend drugs that will treat the patient with encephalitis that will destroy tumor cells with the mouse cells that are creating the encephalitis enzyme.
Gene therapy is an exciting new approach that is just making the news. In the future of gene therapy, this technique will be an everyday word used in our households. Gene therapy will change the field of medicine from what it is today, or what it was in the past (read the history of gene therapy here). As s scientists discover more genes and their functions, the potential of this treatment is limitless. Our genome is the blueprint of our body. The key to our future is locked in our genome. As researchers start to understand this blueprint, our lives will be forever changed. We now know our fate is indeed in our genes.
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