Gene Therapy


 

What are Genes?
Genes are the basic units of heredity, located on structures in cellular nuclei(the central part of the cell) called chromosomes.

Genes decide who we are, how we look, how much we look and behave like our parents, and what are our physical and mental characteristics.

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What is Gene therapy?
It is a state-of-the-art therapy which manipulates the structure and function of genes to fight cancer and several other diseases.

Gene therapy is still very much in its infancy, but shows great promise in the field of cancer treatment , as cancer happens to have a very strong correlation with genetic flaws.

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How does Gene therapy work?
There are two basic ways in which gene therapy combats cancer:

  • By trying to replace defective genes by supplying healthy genes.
  • By attempting to introduce damaged genes into cancer cells, thus making them non viable or unable to survive.

This is very difficult, however, for the simple reason that each cancer has more than one genetic defect, and different types of cancers have totally different genetic make up.

Gene therapy is still not available freely in the developed countries, leave alone developing countries like India.

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What are the side effects of Gene therapy?
The following side effects may occur, but can be alleviated usually:

  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Fever.
  • Bleeding spontaneously.

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What is predictive Gene testing?
Tests have now been developed in the world, wherein a person's genetic make up is checked to see if she or he has a chance of developing cancer in the future. A search for the defective genes is made in the person's genetic make up.

There are several controversies in this predictive genetic testing theory, however. Firstly, even if a flawed gene is present, many other factors influence whether a person will develop cancer or not. Also, some people who do not have these genetic flaws develop these particular cancers. Thus obviously, more complex and currently unknown factors are at work, and active research is going on to discover the same.

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