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bioethics gene therapy paper

Genes, which are carried on chromosomes, are the basic physical and functional units of heredity. Genes are specific sequences of bases that encode instructions on how to make proteins. Although genes get a lot of attention, it's the proteins that perform most life functions and even make up the majority of cellular structures. When genes are altered so that the encoded proteins are unable to carry out their normal functions, genetic disorders can result. Gene therapy is a technique for correcting defective genes responsible for disease development. Researchers may use one of several approaches for correcting faulty genes. In most gene therapy studies, a “normal” gene is inserted into the genome to replace an “abnormal,” disease-causing gene. A carrier molecule called a vector must be used to deliver the therapeutic gene to the patient’s target cells. Currently, the most common vector is a virus that has been genetically altered to carry normal human DNA. The scientists are trying to make the virus that will work as it should, delivering the right genetic material to the right region. Specifically, to design virus-based vectors that can be injected directly into patients in order to accomplish gene transfer. The long-term goal is to engineer vectors that would target the correct tissue, insert into a safe site in the genome, and be regulated by normal physiological signals.( Anderson, 1999, para. 1) Viruses have evolved a way of encapsulating and delivering their genes to human cells in a pathogenic manner. Scientists have tried to take advantage of this capability and manipulate the virus genome to remove disease-causing genes and insert therapeutic genes. Target cells such as the patient’s liver or lung cells are infected with the viral vector. The vector then unloads its genetic material containing the therapeutic human gene into the target cell. The generation of a functional protein product from the therapeutic gene restores …

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