Over about the past 25 years, scientists have been experimenting with a technique called gene therapy. Gene therapy is a new way that – when applied correctly – would treat and prevent disease. It is possible that in the future, using this new technique, doctors may be able to insert a gene into the patient instead of using drugs or surgery.
There are several different approaches to gene therapy, like inserting a new gene into the body to help fight the disease, eliminating a gene from the body that isn’t functioning the way it’s supposed to, or replacing a gene that causes the disease (or is unhealthy) with a healthy version of that gene. Each of these different approaches is for the benefit and well-being of the patient.
You’re probably wondering how the procedure goes. Well, it happens with a series of carefully executed steps. This is an example of how gene therapy is done (and has been done through testing) if a gene were to be inserted into the patient. In a laboratory, a gene would be placed in a virus that would have been altered so that it couldn’t reproduce. Cells would then be removed from the patient, and the altered virus would then be mixed with the cells that were taken from the patient, which would cause them to become genetically altered. The altered cells would then be injected into the patient, and would potentially help heal the patient by producing a hormone or protein.
But gene therapy is not always effective. Depending on the gene and the disease, gene therapy doesn’t always have a positive outcome. Currently, gene therapy is still undergoing research, and hasn’t proven to be very successful in clinical trials, and since 1990, the gene therapy clinical trials haven’t improved much. This technique – although it has the potential to cure many things – still remains risky, and is only being tested on diseases that have no other cures.
However, even though gene therapy research hasn’t made incredible progress, researchers have not given up, because if gene therapy was corrected and made possible, the outcome would be a breakthrough. It would potentially be possible to cure some diseases, disabilities and cancers. The gene therapy technique even has the potential to – in some cases – replace defective genes while an embryo is still in its mother’s womb. So, even though gene therapy has its risks, there would be a great benefit if gene therapy were made possible.
Gene therapy would be an amazing way to cure and treat diseases. Researchers and doctors are still looking into the possibility of gene therapy as a way to treat patients. But, as was mentioned earlier, gene therapy cannot be safely executed on a daily basis; further research may allow this procedure to become a cure for many diseases, disabilities and even some cancers.