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How can Gene Therapy help in treatment of Cancer?
#1
Cancer is a life threatening disease which spreads rapidly in the body. Cancerous cells produce in the body more than the speed of normal cells and even the immune system of the body can’t consider them harmful. These cells form masses or lumps of the tissues and are called as tumors.

  • Leukemia is one type of cancer which does not produce tumors but the blood cells divide abnormally and uncontrollably. There are different therapies for the cancer but none of them assures the complete removal of the disease fro the body. Scientists have thought of applying gene therapy to eradicate the disease and are certain that it will bring new hope for the cancer patients.

Method of Gene therapy and Cancer treatment

Gene therapy is the technique of genetic engineering in which new genes are replaced with healthy cells by using plasmids or vectors as gene carriers. It is going to bring new dimension to the treatment of cancer caused by mutations or damage to the DNA molecule. Scientists are still doing research to find methods that how gene therapy can be used to treat breast, lung and bone cancer. However, there are some assumptions which can be helpful in the treatment of disease of cancer.

There are different possibilities which can be used to treat cancer with gene therapy:
  • Genes specially designed for the treatment of cancer can be inserted into the cancerous cells so that they become sensitive and can be destroyed with chemotherapy.
  • One possibility is that genes can be inserted into the cancer cells, they will release toxin which will completely disable them to function in a negative way.
  • Genes can also make the cancerous cells unstable. Usually caner cells do not allow the faulty DNA to repair which results in the rapid growth of abnormal cells.
  • As cancer is caused due to the mutations in the genes, that is why if healthy genes are added in place of abnormal or missing genes, they will start working in a normal way.
Gene therapy can also work the other way round. It can make immune system so strong that it can easily recognize the cancerous cells in the body and completely destroy them. It can be done by tagging the cancer cells with special tags so that immune system can easily recognize them and destroy the completely or block their function.

Though Gene therapy is being used for many genetic diseases and has given successful results but a lot of advancements are required yet to use this technique against cancer. Many be many years will be needed before gene therapy is fully available for treating cancer. In 2006, scientists got successful results of gene therapy when applied against treatment of cancer. Researchers removed the immune system cells called as T-lymphocytes and they added a new gene to these cells. this new gene enabled the immune cells to identify the cancerous cells from he body and destroy them. When these cells were inserted back in the patients’ body, most of the patient showed tremendous results.
#2
Scientists are investigating the insertion of genes into cancer cells to make them more sensitive to chemotherapy, radiotherapy or other treatments. In other studies, researchers remove healthy hematopoietic stem cells in the body, insert a gene that makes cells more resistant to side effects of high doses of anticancer drugs, and then injected cells back into patient.
#3
The changes in the genes results in cancer. The gene therapy treatment is designed to alter the cancer cells at molecular level and replace bad or missing gene with healthy one. The novel gene is delivered to the target cell by means of a vector, which is generally a tiny fat bubble (liposome) or an inactive virus.

There are different types of gene therapies that researchers are working with such as;

Boosting the immune response – This type of gene therapy aim’s to boost the immune cells to attack cancer cells. Some of the immune cells produce proteins that promote other immune cells to destroy cancerous cells. Some gene therapies add genes to the individual’s immune cells to improve them at destroying or finding specific types of cancer.

Gene therapies to facilitate cancer treatments to work more efficiently - Some type of gene therapies add genes into the cancer cells so that they are more sensitive to specific treatments such as chemotherapy or with radiotherapy.

Pro drug gene therapy - Some kinds of gene therapies add genes into the cancer cells that enables the cells to transform the drugs from an inactive state to an active state. The inactive state of the drug is termed as a pro drug.

Blocking various processes that safeguard cancer cells - Some type of gene therapies block various processes that cancer cells utilize for survival. For instance, if the DNA is damaged beyond repair most of the body cells are programmed to death (apoptosis), but cancerous cells block this process. Some gene therapies target to reverse this blockage.

Using altered viruses - Some of the viruses infect and kill cells. Scientists are engaged in finding ways to alter these viruses so that they target and kill cancerous cells, leaving healthy cells. This type of therapy utilizes viruses to kill cancer cells directly and not by means of gene delivery. Although this technique is not a gene therapy in the true sense, researchers sometimes refer to it in that way.


#4
Gene therapy can also work the other way round. It can make immune system so strong that it can easily recognize the cancerous cells in the body and completely destroy them. It can be done by tagging the cancer cells with special tags so that immune system can easily recognize them and destroy the completely or block their function.
  

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How can Gene Therapy help in treatment of Cancer?00