Human Gene Therapy
Genetic disorders affect about one in every ten people. Some, like cystic fibrosis, can have consequences early in a child's life while others, like Huntington's disease don't show up until later in life.
Preventing genetic disorders can be difficult. Unlike regular diseases which are a result of external factors, genetic diseases are caused by our very own DNA. When the genetic code in a gene is altered, the gene can become defective.
Genetic disorders are hereditary. When the defective gene is passed onto an offspring, there is a risk that that offspring will develop that genetic disorder. Some genetic disorders are caused by dominant genes, requiring only a single gene for the disease to develop. Others are caused by recessive genes which require two copies of the defective gene, one from each parent, to cause the disease.
There is, however, a new revolutionary new technique called gene therapy aimed at treating and curing genetic disorders using drugs and/or other methods. It involves replacing defective genes with copies of the correct genes. Somatic gene therapy is used to treat people with existing genetic disorders. Germline gene therapy is used to insert corrected genes into the reproductive cells so that future offspring will not contain the defective genes of the parent.
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