on to the next generation.
If the DNA of a particular gene contains mistakes then the gene may
not function properly. Sometimes the mistake will not have serious
effects on the body’s health, but other times it will cause a severe
genetic disease. Examples of this are cystic fibrosis, sickle cell
anemia and hemophilia. Hemophilia, for instance, is caused by a
malfunction in the gene that makes the blood clot. As further research
into human genetics is carried out it is becoming clear that other
diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease and some manic
depressive illnesses also result from faulty DNA information.
For some of these genetic diseases, there are effective therapies that
do exist. Drugs, blood transfusions, changes in diet or
transplantation of organs can often help to compensate for the
incorrect information from the malfunctioning gene, e.g. a clotting
factor can be introduced to help people suffering with hemophilia.
Human gene therapy is another approach to the treatment of genetic
diseases. The basic idea is to insert normal genes with the correct
information into the DNA of cells with malfunctioning genes. Adding
genes in this way is called “gene insertion.”
The added genetic information would allow the effected cells to
function properly and may reduce or eliminate the signs and symptoms