Gene therapy is still a new idea but in essence it is a disease treatment technique that helps combat and prevent disease by using genetic code. In the future, this technique may allow doctors to remove or prevent a disorder by introducing a beneficial gene into a patient’s DNA as opposed to dealing with the side effects and lack of permanence with drugs or facing high risks with surgeries. At the moment gene therapy is only being tested for the treatment of diseases that have no other cures but researchers are approaching this problem in many different ways. These methods include substituting a mutated gene that causes disease with a healthy copy, deactivating a mutated gene that is functioning improperly as well as introducing an entirely new gene into the body so that the body develops another line of defense.
Gene therapy is intended to compensate for poorly developed and/or mutated genes, or to trigger the creation of a beneficial protein. However, a gene that is implanted directly into a cell usually does not function at all, let alone correct the problem. As a result, a carrier has to be genetically engineered to deliver the gene (this carrier is called a Vector) directly into the cell’s chromosomes. The vector can be injected or given intravenously (by IV) directly into a specific tissue in the body, where it is taken up by individual cells. Also, certain types of viruses can have their harmful genetic material stripped out and replaced with the proper genetic blueprints so that the virus’s delivery system remains the same but instead of delivering disease the virus is acting as a vector and introduces new material directly into the existing DNA. F...
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...roper use of gene therapy, as well as the possible elitist status that gene therapy would occupy due to the cost. Also, the widespread use of gene therapy could have debilitating social consequences as anyone who is baseline and not engineered for health could begin to be prejudiced against. And finally, what happens when people begin altering the base human traits that make people unique like hair and eye color, facial aesthetics, height, athletic ability…etc.
Gene therapy has the opportunity to change the world in any number of ways, but we as a race will just have to wait and see. With the number of hurdles that researchers have to go through it will take a long time for any real progress to be made. However, once Gene Therapy becomes viable it will work as the next step in evolution for a race that has generally been evolutionarily stagnate for a few centuries.
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