The genes in your body are part of the blueprint for your size, health and physical condition. While everyone has a few defective genes in their body, most people are not aware of them until they start causing a genetic disease.
Preventing this type of disease from occurring is rather difficult unless the gene itself can be directly treated. Gene therapy is a relatively recent type of treatment that goes after the very genes which can cause many serious, hereditary diseases from occurring.
What is Gene Therapy?
Genes are the basic unit of heredity and include base sequences that create instructions for the production of proteins in the body. The proteins will perform many of the life functions and help form the cellular structures as well. If a gene is altered in some fashion so that it does not properly encode the proteins, then they will malfunction and a genetic disorder may result.
Gene therapy is the technique used to correct these mutated genes so that they will function correctly and then get rid of the root cause of the disease. Over the past few years there have been a number of breakthroughs which have resulted in a number of new treatments.
What Are the Pros of Gene Therapy?
The most obvious positive of gene therapy is that when it is successful, the genetic disease which has been afflicting the body can now be more easily eradicated since it is no longer being produced. In addition, the therapy can prevent the mutated genes from being passed on to the next generation which means that many hereditary diseases can be stopped in their tracks long before they can begin.
For many, the benefits outweigh any risk any of the potential complications as there are few at least in terms of physical effects. When done correctly, gene therapy has no side effects as only the defective gene is addressed.
What Are the Cons of Gene Therapy?
Currently, the development of gene therapy is still in the early stages so there is techniques that still being tried to perfect the approach. However, given the number of advances that have happened in recent years, it seems likely that such techniques will be perfected soon before they are used on the general public.
However, despite the relative lack of medical side effects when gene therapy is performed correctly, there are other matters that many people have questions about before it is put into full effect.
There is the ethical question of whether genes that are not defective can be changed by this type of therapy. If so, then can scientist create a super race through this form of therapy? While this is currently not the goal of most scientists, it cannot be ruled out that some may go beyond proper ethics and morals to create a race of humans that fit their particular vision.
In the long run, if the proper controls are used then gene therapy will have a profound effect on the health of millions of people as defective genes are removed from the population and not passed down to their children.