Gene Therapy

Cons & Pros - By: Kaia, Nick, Armani

What is Gene Therapy?

Gene Therapy is a form of therapy that involves inserting one or more genes that have been designed in a laboratory, into genetic material of a patients cells to cure a genetic disease.

The Basics of Gene Therapy:

The first step of Gene therapy is to identify the faulty gene, then the location of the affected cells in the body. Next, scientists take out affected cells. They then insert a vector carrying a working version of the gene into the cell. Finally, they return the cell to the body.

Gene Therapy can be used to treat diseases that have no other cure. Some diseases include Parkinson disease, Atchisons disease, Cardiovascular disease, Arthritis, Cystic Fibrosis, Cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and many more hereditary diseases.

The two main types of Gene therapy are Somatic and Germline therapy. In Somatic gene therapy only body cells are targeted, and in Germline therapy sex cells are targeted. Germline therapy is when the genes are introduced to the reproductive cells or embryos to correct inherited genetic defects that can cause disease. Somatic gene therapy is an experimental method of cloning genes and reintroducing them into cells for the purpose of correcting inherited disease using body cells, while Germline gene therapy uses sex cells.

Gene Therapy Pictures

Pros and Cons of Gene Therapy

The Government Should Fund Gene Therapy Because ,

  • it is the only hope for finding cures to rare genetic diseases
  • Gene Therapy targets the reproductive cells of carriers of such genetic disorders as Cystic Fibrosis, Parkinson's disease, or Cancer, it is possible that any children that the carrier goes on to have would be free of the defective gene and on a bigger scale the disease can be wiped out completely
  • Gene therapy, when successful, can have a number of advantages over drug therapy such as providing a cure rather than easing the symptoms
  • one notable factor that gives gene therapy the edge is the remarkable therapeutic potential it has
  • The intrusive nature of gene therapy means that we can discover information about our genetic make up that some would say we are never meant to know. From genetic screening we can find out if we are at any significant risk of certain diseases
  • The revolutionary idea provides the opportunity to do some wonderful things in terms of curing currently incurable diseases

The Government Shouldn't Fund Gene Therapy Because,

  • The government shouldn't fund gene therapy, because the current lack of knowledge and understanding of the treatment means that its safety is unknown. The current scientific understanding is based on theory rather than solid fact.

  • In clinical trials already carried out the effects of the treatment have only been short-lived.

  • Drug therapy, although not offering the possibility of a cure, is a tried and tested method and is therefore deemed safer

  • With current knowledge there is no guarantee that the vector carrying the healthy gene will end up in the specific place it is intended – there is a risk of causing even more damage to the genetic makeup that can result in severe consequences for the patient

  • For some, this knowledge could have a negative impact on their lives and if that knowledge was to influence any life decisions in a negative way then it is questionable whether genetic screening is morally correct.

  • Genetic screening can also be carried out on unborn babies – if this screening showed that a child was carrying a disease this may lead to the parents deciding to abort the child

  • Gene therapy has the potential to be misused – for instance the concept of “designer babies”, where specific genes are selected in order to create the perfect child, can be compared to Hitler’s attempts to create a superior race.

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