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Gene Therapy And Genetic Disorders Essay

1397 words - 6 pages

Every cell in the human body is given instruction by our genes as to what job each cell should perform. Every tiny detail is dependent upon the instruction of our genes. If a gene or cell becomes damaged, changes, or is missing, there are major consequences to the body and the health of the individual. Genetic disorders are caused by damaged or missing genes and can be life threatening. They can lead to serious diseases in the individual. Certain types of genetic disorders cannot be cured by treatment with medicine. Drugs may help relieve symptoms of certain disorders but cannot cure the disease. Drugs cannot reverse or repair a damaged cell or gene. Scientists and doctors have done extensive research to find ways to reverse the negative effects of a damaged gene or repair a missing or damaged gene in order to cure diseases. This led to the discovery of gene therapy. Gene therapy’s main focus is on replacing or repairing defective genes within the body in the hope that this will repair the defect in the gene and in doing so cure or at least lessen the negative effects of the disease. The procedure involves the introduction of a healing or working gene copy into specific cells of an individual in order to repair or replace a damaged gene. Two main methods have been tried —adding a gene to substitute for a gene that wasn't working as it is supposed to be, or changing genes that are not working properly. Cystic fibrosis, hemophilia and sickle cell anemia are among the diseases where gene therapy has been considered. Diseases that are incurable in which gene therapy has also been considered include Parkinson’s, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
There are two types of gene therapy. The first, somatic gene therapy involves the transfer of healthy genes into the physical cells of an infected patient. These cells include every cell type in the human body except for the cells which make up the sperm and ova and certain types of stem cells. Somatic cells cured by gene therapy may reverse the symptoms of the diseased individual but the changed gene is not inherited by the offspring of that individual. The second type of gene therapy, genetic gene or germ line therapy, involves the manipulation of the germ cells or the sperm or eggs of the patient. The changed genes of the germ/sperm/ova cells then are able to be inherited by future generations of the patient. Genetic gene therapy can be used to treat genetic disorders.
The passing down of ones traits to their offspring – whether it be eye color or a genetic disease is the reason that genetic gene therapy is the subject of ethical controversy, as opposed to somatic gene therapy. There is little ethical controversy regarding somatic gene therapy since it is treating a specific infected patient and the effects of the therapy begin and end...

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