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A New Future: Gene Therapy

Powerful Essays
A New Future: Gene Therapy

Imagine a world where a person could change his or her genetic structure and redirect the future course of evolution in their child and themselves. Through gene therapy this is a very real possibility. In the future it could be just as easy to change your physical or mental health as it is to get flu shot now. But the affects of gene therapy are long lasting and could affect your future offspring as well as your own health.

What is gene therapy?

First discovered in the middle of the 1970's researchers were able to isolate certain genes from DNA. During the 1980's the term gene therapy came about and propelled research further.

The definition of gene therapy is a "technique where the genes causing a defect are themselves substituted by correct genes in the patient to cure a disease" (Macer, 1990).

At birth each of us receives a set of chromosomes that contain the genes that code for our personality, appearance, and long term-health (Becker,1996). When one of those genes has a mutation or flaw in the DNA structure it can lead to disease. Some diseases related to genetic inheritance are diabetes, sickle cell anemia, and some cancers. With gene therapy we can eliminate these diseases before they even show their fist symptom.

There are two types of gene therapy treatments. They differ in the consequences they have for the patients. The first is somatic cell gene therapy. In this process faulty genes are replaced by the correct sequence of genes. The body can then make the correct protein and ultimately eliminate the faulty gene causing the disease. It is only necessary to treat enough cells to provide adequate amounts of the correct protein so that some reach the site of action (Macer, 1990)...

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...s. I think with careful planning and regulation gene therapy will become the "medicine" of the near future. The concern of interfering with evolution is misconceived. We as scientists must do our part. And who is to say gene therapy is not evolution itself.

Bibliography

1. Biotechnology Industry Organization, 1998. Gene Therapy - An Overview. Obtained from WWW: http://www.gene.com/AE/AB/IWT/Gene_Therapy_Overview.html

2. PBS On-Line. 1998. What is Gene Therapy. Obtainined fromn the WWW: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/innovation/show1/html/2sb-therapy.html

3. Macer, DRJ. 1990. Shaping Genes: Ethics, Law and Science of Using New Genetic Technology in Medicine and Agriculture. Obtained from the WWW: http://www.biol.tsukuba.ac.jp/~macer/SG14.html

4. Wilson, J. What is Gene Therapy. 1997. Obtained from the WWW: http://www.med.upenn.edu/ihgt/info/whatisgt.html
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