The Use of DNA to Treat Disease Essay

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The Use of DNA to Treat Disease

In recent years there have been great advances in medical science. Scientists believe that a gene can be transplanted into humans who suffer from severe diseases that are life threatening. These gene transplants could perhaps cure diseases for which no effective treatment now exists. This treatment is called gene therapy, one method in a series of genetic techniques called genetic engineering. Many benefits can be seen in the future if this research is allowed to continue, however, concerns about how gene therapy could effect humans in the future and the ethics involved with possible misuse of the techniques could hinder this vital research.

The human body is
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The information in somatic cells will not be passed 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 of a

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