Gene Therapy is one of those words which is heard time and again but no one really knows what it means. To break this term into simple words, gene therapy is a treatment through which you can experiment. It requires the introduction of genetic material into a person’s cells to prevent the occurrence of the disease or to help fight against it. Researchers in this background are studying more about gene therapy for a number of reasons. Parkinson’s, severe combined immunodeficiencies, hemophilia, HIV and even cancer can be erased if this therapy is used in the future with full force. The most simple way of delivering a gene to a cell is by using a carrier known as ‘vector’. Viruses are the most common type of vectors used in gene therapy. These viruses, through a particular procedure, can be altered to make them safe, however, a lot of risks still exist when it comes to gene therapy. This technology is just coming out of its infancy and has already made some success stories all around the world.
What is the basic procedure involved with gene therapy?
It is important for people to know that there is not one but several approaches to gene therapy. The following will tell you more about them in detail:
- There is a procedure where the mutated genes are replaced with a similar healthy copy of that gene.
- Another procedure in fetal gene therapy
involves knocking out and inactivating a mutated gene that is not functioning properly.
- Doctors also advocate the introduction of another new gene into the person’s body so that he can fight the disease.
All in all, it is important to note that a gene cannot be inserted directly into a person’s cell. Only a vector or carrier can do it.
These vector systems can be classified into two parts, which are:
2.Non Viral Vectors
Different types of Gene Therapy:
All cells in the human body contain genes. This makes them the targets for gene therapy. These cells are usually divided into two main categories: germline cells (the sperm or eggs) or somatic cells (most of the cells in the body). When it comes to theoretical readings, it is possible to transform somatic and germ cells.
The gene therapy that uses germline cells leads to permanent changes that are passed down generation after generation. If it’s done in the embryologic development, it should be done as early as possible during in vitro fertilization and preimplantation diagnosis so that the gene transfer can take place in all the cells in the developing embryo.
The appeal associated with this therapy is the potential it has for offering an almost permanent therapeutic treatment and effect for everyone who inherits the targeted gene. This means that if a particular family has a history of cancer, it can be possibly eliminated, forever. Slowly, the entire population will also get rid of this disease.
There is a constant debate on how the gene therapy is man’s way of trying to act as God. Some worry about how deleting a particular gene, in turn, be extremely harmful. It should be noted that fetal gene therapy and implications are many, but until a good solution isn’t found for it, it will still be in its nascent stage.