Gene therapy is a medical approach that involves altering the genes inside a person's cells to treat or prevent disease. There are different types of gene therapy, but the general idea is to either replace a missing or defective gene or to introduce a new gene that will help the body fight off disease.
There are two main types of gene therapy:
Germ-line gene therapy: This type of therapy involves altering the genes in eggs, sperm or embryos. The changes made through germ-line gene therapy are passed on to future generations.
Somatic gene therapy: This type of therapy involves altering the genes in non-reproductive cells (i.e., cells that do not produce eggs or sperm). The changes made through somatic gene therapy only affect the individual being treated and are not passed on to future generations.
Somatic gene therapy typically involves the following steps:
Identifying the gene that needs to be modified: Scientists identify the specific gene that is causing a disease or disorder.
Preparing the new gene: A healthy copy of the gene is then introduced into a vector, such as a virus, which is used to deliver the gene to the patient's cells.
Delivery of the new gene: The vector carrying the new gene is introduced into the patient's body, either by injection, inhalation, or other methods.
Integration of the new gene: Once inside the patient's cells, the vector inserts the new gene into the DNA of the patient's cells. The new gene then produces a functional protein, which can help treat or prevent the disease.
Gene therapy is still an experimental technique, and its safety and efficacy are being studied. However, it has shown promise in treating a variety of genetic disorders, including cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, and some types of cancer.
How does gene therapy works for cancer patients
Gene therapy for cancer patients is a type of treatment that aims to destroy cancer cells by introducing genes that help the body recognize and attack them.
There are several approaches to gene therapy for cancer, but the most common method involves using a virus to deliver new genes to the patient's cells. The virus is modified so that it can't cause disease, and instead, it carries therapeutic genes into the patient's cells.
The new genes introduced through gene therapy can work in several ways to fight cancer:
Introducing genes that kill cancer cells: Some genes can directly cause cancer cells to die by triggering a process called apoptosis.
Introducing genes that help the immune system recognize and attack cancer cells: The immune system is designed to recognize and attack foreign cells, including cancer cells. Gene therapy can introduce genes that help the immune system recognize and attack cancer cells more effectively.
Introducing genes that sensitize cancer cells to other treatments: Some genes can make cancer cells more sensitive to other types of cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation.
Clinical trials for gene therapy in cancer patients are ongoing, and the therapy is still in the experimental stage. However, early results have shown promise, particularly in treating certain types of blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma. Gene therapy has the potential to become an important tool in the fight against cancer.