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Word Count: 401
Gene Therapy Gene therapy is the use of genes and the techniques of genetic engineering in the treatment of a genetic disorder or chronic disease There are many techniques of gene therapy The two basic methods are called in vivo and ex vivo gene therapy The in vivo method inserts genetically altered genes directly into the patient the ex vivo method removes tissue from the patient extracts the cells in question and genetically alters them before returning them to the patient The challenge of gene therapy is the development of a means to deliver the genetic material into the nuclei of the appropriate cells so that it will be reproduced in the normal course of cell division and have a lasting effect One technique involves removing cells from a patient fortifying them with healthy copies of the defective gene and reinjecting them into the patient Another involves inserting a gene into an inactivated or nonvirulent virus and using the viruss infective capabilities to carry the desired gene into the patients cells A liposome a tiny fat-encased pouch that can traverse cell membranes is also sometimes used to transport a gene into a body cell Another approach employing liposomes called chimeraplasty involves the insertion of manufactured nucleic acid molecules chimeraplasts instead of entire genes to correct disease-causing gene mutations Once inserted the gene may produce an essential chemical that the patients body cannot remove or render harmless a substance or gene causing disease or expose certain cells especially cancerous cells to attack by conventional drugs Gene therapy was first used in humans in 1990 to treat a child with adenosine deaminase deficiency ADA a rare hereditary immune disorder It is hoped that gene therapy can be used to treat cancer genetic diseases and AIDS but there are concerns that the immune system may attack cells treated by gene therapy that the viral vectors could mutate and become virulent or that altered genes might be passed
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