Ashanti DeSilva was a four-year old girl, when she was born with a rare genetic disorder known as Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). She was diagnosed with a disease which caused the depletion of white-blood cells, hence making her immune system exposed to infections and other diseases. The doctors could not find any treatment for her. They had to resolve to a new field of medicine known as Gene Therapy. At the beginning her parents didn’t want to execute the operation, but since they had no choice, they dah to og ahead with the treatment to save their child’s life.
Today she’s living a healthy life and is attending college. Since then Gene Therapy has become the solution to genetic disorders. What is human gene therapy? Human gene therapy is a procedure that is being used in an attempt to treat genetic and other diseases. Many ethical, social and safety concerns are being raised on the use of human genetic engineering. Gene therapy techniques will introduce copies of a “healthy” gene into cells of the body. The disease will be controlled if the introduced genes work normally.
This is called somatic gene therapy because it introduces the gene into a somatic or body cell. Any cells that could divide to form sperms or eggs will not have genes introduced into them through somatic gene therapy. The insertion of a single gene into the somatic cells of an individual with a life threatening genetic disease is the somatic cell gene therapy. This type of therapy is intended solely to eliminate the clinical consequences of the disease. Future generations shouldn’t have any problems because the inserted gene is not passed down to them.
Germinal gene therapy, involves the insertions of a healthy gene into the fertilized egg of an animal that has a specific genetic defect. This has been performed successfully in several animal studies. The new gene is obtained in every cell in the body including reproductive cells. There are three overwhelming technical problems that are preventing consideration of this technique for the use in human beings. “The first is that scientists have no way of diagnosing genetic disorders in the fertilized egg.
Secondly, the procedure is most often used to insert genes into fertilized eggs – injection with a microscopically guided glass needle – has a high failure rate and thirdly, the problem is lack of control over where the gene is inserted into the embryo’s genetic machinery (Nichols E. K. , 1988). ” Gene therapy techniques will introduce copies of the “healthy” gene into those cells (called target cells) in the bodies that are affected by the faulty gene. These healthy genes that are inserted should not be accepted into other cells in the body.
There have been a number of proposed methods for inserting human genes into target cells. When scientists discover a gene that is faulty, the research begins. Scientists compare the faulty gene to the healthy functional gene. This could tell scientists a lot about the faulty gene and how it affects the chemical reactions within a cell. This may lead to the development of new drugs to control the condition. Human suffering, due to inherited diseases, has been reduced more by the use of genetic diagnosis than any other medical technology.
The identity of a gene responsible for a genetic disease must be known before scientists can begin to consider gene therapy. The consequences of gene therapy are numerous at this time. As with anything not researched there are critics. The first issue targets putting human fate in our own hands – giving us the ability to manufacture future generations. Some people are concerned that gene therapy will be used to create a superior race. This is termed eugenics. The idea of gene therapy is to cure hereditary diseases not make any one person or race superior.
Another consideration is religion. Some consider it sinful to manipulate DNA. In reality gene therapy is just that- a therapy. It is a new form of advanced medicine. Gene therapy is completely up to the individual in question. If religion is a factor then somatic cell therapy should be applied. This allows the next generation to make their own decision. Some groups claim that regulations will be hard to control, even with laws there is the possibility gene therapy could become available on the black market.
It could be used for any genetically linked trait such as eternal appearance, personality, or physical enhancement. These concerns will have to be dealt with in time. The cost of gene therapy is high at this time and could be a concern for families with that need lifelong treatment and do not have health care. Gene therapy will probably be cheaper in the long run since it is a one-time only procedure. It will eliminate suffering for the individual and possibly their children. Gene therapy is both beneficial and potentially harmful, depending on how it is applied.
Somatic cell gene therapy will have great benefits for some of the disease that human beings suffer. Even germinal cell gene therapy should be used, if it can be guaranteed to be used for eliminating life-threatening and incurable human diseases, such as cancers and -VIHAIDS. The advantage of the gene therapy technique is to give someone that is born with a genetic disease or who develops cancer a chance at a normal life. This technique has the ability to cure many of the diseases that have affected societies for years.
This is an advantage that far outweighs any of the disadvantages that have been presented against gene therapy. People who oppose gene therapy do not understand the techniques involved. In the coming future, gene therapy will play an important part in many people’s lives. Gene therapy will revolutionize the practice of medicine. The role of doctors and patients will change in the coming years, and it will all be due to gene therapy. This will be a great advancement in the field of science and genetic engineering.