Gene Therapy | Gene Therapy For Cancer Treatment
Genes are the hereditary biological units. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the molecule, forming genes. Genes affect factors like hair, physical strength, eye colour, oxygen carrying capacity of the blood, etc. Gene therapy is an advanced level of treatment where the patient’s genetic materials are altered or new genetic materials like (DNA, RNA) are introduced in the cells to fight the disease.
Scientists are working to invent improved methods of treating cancer through gene therapy. In gene therapy either the healthy cells are made active to fight the disease or the targeted cells are attacked to stop their growth. In one of the methods, a blood sample is taken out of the patient’s body, where genes are inserted which helps producing proteins like TCR. These are then inserted into the white blood cells. The white blood cells produce TCR. TCR attaches itself to the molecules found on the tumour cells and finally activates the white blood cells to kill the cancer cells. Research on gene therapy is also aiming at the cancer cells to stop their growth of blood vessels.
Genes cannot be directly inserted into a person’s body it is done with the help of vectors. Viruses are the most commonly used vectors in gene therapy as they have the capability of identifying the targeted cells and thus can easily insert the genetic material into them. However, risks are also associated with this process, as virus damages some of the other type of healthy cells. Even the risk of insertion of the new DNA into wrong cells cannot be avoided which can be very harmful for the patient’s body.
Scientists must bring forth more effective ways of treatment through gene therapy. Even vectors, which will not harm the healthy cell and will only focus on the targeted cells, is needed to help gene therapy to work in a more efficient and effective way.
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