Genetics Paper

1782 Words8 Pages
What is something we desperately cannot live without, something that courses through our bodies, keeping us alive, healthy, and alert? What is something that is often taken for granted in its role in deciding who lives and who dies? The answer: blood. It is often perceived that the blood’s only responsibility is that of gas transport to and from the tissues of the body; however, the blood is essential in keeping the body at the right homeostatic levels necessary for survival. Any imbalance in either a white blood cell or red blood cells’ ability to maintain homeostasis often results in severe disease within the host. Such diseases can sometimes be passed, genetically, from parent to offspring, or, at least, a predisposition to disease. Genetic defects in offspring often result from a spontaneous mutation in a parent’s gene, whose expression is necessary for survival, and then, after reproduction, the said affected gene gets passed to the offspring. Such genetic predispositions can result in disadvantages in those affected and present difficulties when trying to respond to or reverse the resulting disease. Hereditary spherocytosis and familial acute myeloid leukemia are two such conditions that affect normal red blood cell (RBC) and white blood cell (WBC) functions, respectively, that can also be passed from generation to generation. Currently, efforts to reduce the severity of these diseases, or potentially reverse them, involve the use of gene therapy in an affected individual. Modern gene therapy, very generally, involves replacing the mutated gene with a healthy copy of the gene, blocking the improperly functioning gene, or using another introduced gene to help fight a currently existing disease (INSERT CITATION). While gene t... ... middle of paper ... ...hin modern preventive medicine. The recombinant erythropoietin therapy in those affected by hereditary spherocytosis, which now is used to reduce severity of anemia and the frequency of transfusions, has laid the groundwork for further gene therapy techniques to reduce the severity of, or even reverse, the condition itself. The same foundation was laid by the researchers responsible for the determination of a safe recombinant purging of leukemia cells in those affected by familial acute myeloid leukemia and other types of myeloid leukemia. While therapy used to eliminate the transfer of affected genes from one diseased individual to their offspring remains a far-off concept, the research cited here provides affected families with the means to plan for their, and their children’s, future regarding a safe and effective way to respond to their genetic predispositions.
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