The difference between gene therapy and cellular treatment: Gene therapy works by restoring or modifying certain sets of genes in the patient’s body. In a way, it can be compared to having your baby’s DNA changed. With gene therapy, genetically altered cells are grown or modified inside the body before actually being injected to the patient. Some doctors use different kinds of methods to encourage the development of new stem cells in patients. For instance, there is a technique that makes the patient develop bone and other tissues naturally by manipulating the genes so that they work better together.
Scientists have created many different types of genetically altered cells, such as blood cells and skin cells. In addition, many other types of cells and tissues have also been developed, such as pancreatic or cervical cells. The term “gene therapy” generally refers to the use of specific genes to treat genetic diseases. Gene therapies have helped people suffering from serious genetic diseases, such as Fanconi syndrome, sickle-cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, and Parkinson’s disease, as well as normal healthy people who may be plagued by health issues.
Because scientists have discovered that some genes seem to be responsible for certain types of genetic diseases, they have developed specific ways of helping patients to counteract the negative effects of these genes. When it comes to gene therapy, it all starts with finding the correct gene. This can often be accomplished with a simple blood test. If you test negative for a certain disease gene, then this can help to remove the possibility of disease.
Gene therapy has also opened the door to helping patients who are missing one or more genes essential to their health. In addition to helping with genetic diseases, it can also help with things such as cysts, sickle cell anemia, and other conditions. Even animals have been treated with gene therapy. A horse that was suffering from muscular dystrophy was successfully treated with a gene that helped the animal survive. There is even research being done on sheep that have been found to be susceptible to certain genetic diseases.
What is a gene? Simply put, it is a piece of DNA found in each cell of the human body. Gene cells are similar to a computer in that they can only be programmed in specific ways. These pieces of DNA control and regulate many processes within the body, and when they are “mistaken” for disease genes, the cells can be harmed, resulting in illness.
It was discovered years ago that when cancer cells attack and invade the body, they tend to copy themselves extensively. The copies then multiply quickly, and the effect is a tumor. Scientists have recently discovered that there are certain genes that make cancer cells grow and multiply very quickly. This research has led to new ways to stop or slow the reproduction of cancer cells.
Some people have already benefited from the use of a cancer gene therapy treatment called APT-ME/LYsi. This therapy involves removing a cancer gene from the sperm of the man (the male equivalent of a female cancer gene) and placing it into a woman’s egg. Once the egg is fertilized by a man carrying the female cancer gene, the treatment will kill the cancer cells in the egg without harming healthy cells that surround it. Because the two cells are now healthy, the woman can carry the child to term and eventually give birth to a normal baby.
Other genes have also been found to be important in helping cancer cells multiply. One such gene is referred to as CD40 and contains a set of proteins that help cancer cells reproduce at an abnormally fast rate. Scientists have been trying to figure out what CD40 does and how it affects DNA. If further studies can determine which genes are involved in CD40 regulation, they might be able to use these findings to develop a way to make the protein less active in cancer cells.