Gene therapy is the method of replacing defective genes with healthy ones. Basically, genes are the basic elements of heredity, coming as triplets of nitrogenous basis that form amino acids, which compose proteins that play a vital role in the bodily functions. This means that defective genes can cause malfunctions in metabolic pathways, which can cause diseases that are deeply rooted in the human genetic design. Gene therapy is commonly categorized into 2 types, which are the somatic cell therapy and the germline therapy. The former involves targeting somatic cells for gene replacement, while the latter involves replacing defective genes in reproductive cells.
But as of yet, it is important to note that there is still not a cure for genetic disorders, and treatment is only indicative, which is why there is so much turmoil in the medical field regarding the potential effects of this type of therapy. Nevertheless, we can get a clear picture of this method by looking into its advantages and disadvantages.
List of Advantages of Gene Therapy
1. It has the ability to replace defective cells.
Human beings have always been prone to various health conditions, where a discovery of one cure would seemingly come with the emergence of a new disease. Normally, we are constantly threatened by newer and more dangerous types of pathogens, and while many diseases can be treated medically, there would be no cure for genetic disorders unless we replace defective cells by healthy ones. Well, this is what gene therapy is developed for.
2. It promises a great untapped potential.
One great aspect about gene therapy that is noted by scientists and researchers is the remarkable therapeutic potential it promises.
3. It can help eradicate diseases.
By targeting defective reproductive cells, it is believed that we can eliminate health defects for good. People suffering from genetic disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, will be greatly helped by gene therapy.
List of Disadvantages of Gene Therapy
1. It can damage the gene pool.
It is believed that gene therapy could possibly change the human gene pool permanently if it was done to a certain degree. Aside from this, this type of treatment will most likely be for the rich only, indefinitely making the rich richer and the poor poorer.
2. It would modify human capabilities.
This is one big drawback of gene therapy—it may be used to enhance and modify human capabilities, which means that the standards for normal human life would be altered. By experimenting with the technology, certain countries could create enhanced and unstoppable armies.
3. It has the potential to give rise in other disorders.
There is an exact point in the host genome where the right genes should be brought in, while there is no assurance that the viral enzyme used in the process can bring in the right genes at such point. When things go wrong, it can lead to severe disorders.
Maybe with more reports of success, gene therapy would be embraced by the general public. But then again, it is important to note the drawbacks that come with it. It seems like only time will tell whether people will start fully rooting for this technology and the benefits it offers.
Crystal Lombardo has been a staff writer for Future of Working for five years. She is a proud veteran and mother. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our editor-in-chief a message here.