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Human gene therapy – the future of health care
Gene therapy is the use of genes to heal diseases at the genetic level. It involves insertion, correction or inactivation of specific genes in organisms suffering from genetic disorders. Ever since it was introduced as a hypothesis in the 1960s, gene therapy has gone on to become a medical wonder that promises relief from the likes of Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Today, the technique is used to manipulate the genome of not only somatic cells but also the germline cells of early embryos and gametes with a vast range of viral and non-viral vectors. The diseases targeted by gene therapy are among the deadliest on the planet: they are categorized into cancers, genetic deficiencies and autoimmune diseases. On the one hand, gene therapy is deemed by some to be an ethically and technically problematic technology because of its cost, its treatment of human dignity and its questionable accuracy and safety. In contrast to what its opponents say, the pro-gene therapy arguments support the technique by highlighting its remarkable efficiency, long-term cost-effectiveness and ability to cure unique diseases, among others.