Gene Therapy Essay

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What if there was a way to cure cancer, change skin color, or increase athleticism. Gene therapy promises to do all this and more. It aims to correct genetic abnormalities by inserting therapeutic genes into the body. Gene therapy is a fairly new practice, but it is not safe or reliable enough to become a standard treatment. One must also consider the ethical questions that arise. Gene therapy offers undeniable benefits, but the risks it poses need to be addressed before this technology can become common practice.
The goal of gene therapy is to correct the unwanted trait or disease by introducing a modified copy into the cell. Notice that the purpose is not to replace defective genes in the host cell, rather it is to provide a new copy, so the correct protein is expressed, or at least the defective gene is neutralized (Blachford 462). Humans are made of trillions of cells, each with a specific function. Contained in each cell is DNA, carrying the blueprint of life in the form of genes that determine inherited characteristics. A mutation is a change in the DNA sequence of a gene. Small mutations may have a profound effect upon the body. For example, hemophilia is caused by the mutation of a single gene. The most obvious targets for gene therapy are single gene defects, where a single, faulty gene causes a disease. While easy, single gene targets for gene therapy include hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and SCID, gene therapy may have the potential to cure HIV, malignant melanoma, kidney cancer, Gaucher disease, breast cancer and lung cancer (Sinnott). Since the 1970’s, scientists have been manipulating genes through gene splicing. Gene splicing involves removing a fragment of DNA containing the specific DNA sequenc...

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...cientist will have to learn how to turn on specific genes when a protein of enzyme is low, and off to avoid too much to ensure the delicate chemical makeup of our bodies is not disrupted. (Blachford, 467) Although there are many risks of gene therapy, the benefits remain to enticing to ignore.
Gene therapy poses many risks, but may prove the ideal solution for countless diseases. As seen throughout the past few decades, gene therapy can cure genetically inherited diseases by introducing therapeutic genes into the body. Critics may argue that there are moral and ethical problems associated with this novel technique, but for the most part scientists realize the importance this advancement will have. Gene therapy may be the key to curing dozens of diseases, and has endless possibilities, but more research is needed before its safe or accepted as common practice.
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