Facts About Gene Therapy: Overview and Pros and Cons

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Gene therapy is a type of alternative healing technique that uses a patient’s own genes to treat or prevent a certain disease. According to medical experts, if the technology is perfected, gene therapy could one day make drugs and surgeries obsolete.

How does Gene Therapy work?

Gene therapy works in many ways. A doctor could replace a mutated gene that’s causing a certain disease with an exact copy of the gene. The procedure could also deactivate a mutated gene to suppress the growth of a disease. Gene therapy could also introduce a healthy gene to make the body resistant to diseases.

Although initial tests show promising results, gene therapy is still risky because more research is needed to ensure safety. Medical experts believe that this treatment is effective in treating incurable diseases such as cancer, inherited disorders, and certain viral disease.

The Advantages of Gene Therapy

Treats Incurable Diseases

At the moment, deadly diseases like cancer have no known cure. Most of the drugs used to treat an incurable condition are aimed at reducing the symptoms, not eliminating the root cause of the disease. Gene therapy is designed to address the root cause of the disease: cell mutation. The treatment inhibits the growth of mutated cells so the body can recover from the disease. Replacing defective cells with healthy ones is key to fighting off incurable diseases, including cancer.

Virtually Wipe Out Genetic Disorders

Modern medicine has come a long way. However, there is no treatment in existence that can cure genetic disease. These disorders are passed from one patient to an offspring, causing a vicious cycle of sharing one disease. With gene therapy, the carriers of genetic diseases could be cured so their offspring will be born healthy. Imagine a world where children do not suffer from asthma or mental disease. Gene therapy can wipe out defective genes, putting an end to all types of genetic disease.

The Disadvantages of Gene Therapy:

Needs More Clinical Tests

As mentioned above, gene therapy remains at the experimental stage. This technique remains taboo among health experts because the treatment remains under testing. Scientists have yet to understand fully how the human genes work. Health experts have no idea what side effects patients will deal with after treatment. Of course, once more testing is conducted, we will know more about this treatment in terms of efficacy and side effects.

Short-lived Results?

Initial tests show that the positive effects of this treatment are short-lived. That’s because research and testing remain limited. To track the efficacy of the treatment, the clinical tests should continue. But there are very few drug companies that are willing to put in the work to check the long-term benefits of this treatment.

Ethical and Religious Issues

Anti-gene therapy lobbyists and activist groups are working against the developing this treatment because of ethical and religious beliefs. Supporters believe that the treatment is messing with the unknown. They claim that gene therapy is unnatural and should be scrapped altogether. All the bad press that gene therapy generated from naysayers affected the progression of the treatment’s clinical research and trials.

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