Gene therapy: The future of medicine

Gene therapy is the pathway to greater health and may soon become a cornerstone of western medicine

9Jul

Genetic therapy should not be confused with eugenics, which is the creation of a "superior" being. Gene therapy has a lot of potential uses in medicine. It may, in fact, be the very future of medicine. Sometimes we are born with genetic defects, our genes become mutated or detective. For the rest of us, sometimes our body just simply wears out.

How it works

Gene therapy could be a potential solution for a lot of humanity's problems. If employee recognition companies were to get their hands on this, they could potentially help increase the number of research companies would do by promoting employees who are successful with their genetic therapy treatments.

Gene Therapy could be used to fix a defective gene with a copy of a healthy one. It can be used to activate a gene that was previously dormant but should've been functioning. Or, it could be used to introduce new genes into our body which were needed for it to function normally.

Genetic therapy could be used to help prevent genetically inherited diseases from ever occurring and completely reshape the future of humanity. Some tests have been done with attempts to cure cancer by introducing antibodies which might not normally be present to fight off the disease. It has also been used to enhance the production of dopamine to cure Parkinson's disease.

Gene therapy can be implemented both inside or outside the body. When it is done inside, doctors inject a modified version of the virus carrying the gene. When introduced into the body, the modified virus takes advantage of the fact that viruses tend to attack the body. This method could be used to treat eye diseases and hemophilia, a hereditary disease which eventually leads to a high risk of excessive bleeding.


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Outcomes

There are a few risks. Since it is introduced into the body through a carrier as an altered version of the virus, there is the chance the immune system might mistake it for the original virus and attempt to attack it. There might also be a chance the newly introduce anti-virus could unintentionally affect more cells and lead to further complications.

When performed out of the body, researchers separate out immature cells from blood or brown marrow samples. They are injected into the bloodstream which eventually finds its way to the bone marrow. Mature cells rapidly reproduce and effectively replace almost all of the defective cells. I'm sure you've seen pictures of the "kid in the bubble." This method has been used to cure SCID, or "Severe Combined Immunodeficiency."

Therapy success

There are other potential uses for genetic therapy. There is potential for it being used as a cure for aging. BioViva, a company in Seattle WA, has made a claim that one of its newest drugs effectively reversed Elizabeth Parish's immune cells by 20 years. The therapy's claim is it extends a part of the DNA structure known as "telomeres". As you get older, this part of your genetic structure wears out and stops producing a chemical called "telomerase." Telomerase is a chemical which tells your telomere to keep replicating itself over and over. If their claims are eventually proven correct, this could be a potentially new way to reverse the effects of aging.

Gene therapy has recently been used to grow new skin and restore eyesight. In November 2017, a patient suffering from Epidermolysis Bullosa had samples of uninfected skin duplicated and applied healthy versions of his skin to the blisters. After a series of surgeries, the blisters were successfully removed.

That following month, scientists at Spark Therapeutics attempted to reduce the effects of Luxturna, a genetically inherited form of blindness. The test was used on more than twenty patients. While it didn't completely cure the disease, the patients did have some of their eyesight restored. The company has yet to release any data as to how long the effects last though.

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