Gene Therapy And The Search For New Cures For Cancer

Gene therapy involves the treatment involving the changes in genes in the host or in some organism (virus) to treat or completely cure an illness or disorder.

CRISPER and its Role

Scientists have recently taken a huge leap forward in the field of gene therapy with the molecular technology called CRISPER. In it, a protein named CRISPER CAS-9 uses a molecular blade to make cuts in the host’s DNA for replacing the genes they don’t want with the preferred ones. It has the power to transform every form of life that we see. For the discovery of the CRISPER, Jennifer Doudna received the 2015 Breakthrough Prize.

It still is in the early research stages and thus will require time to test on humans for the cure of cancer. The idea behind this is to implant altered cells into the parts of the body where there are the cancer cells. For this purpose, it is important to know the difference between the normal body cells and the cancer cells. Cancer cells are mutant cells with uncontrolled growth. Scientists put a genetically modified virus in the body to attack the cancer cells and stop their growth.

Cancer is caused because of many known reasons and one of them is the fault in the genes. Almost 2% of cancer is caused due to genetic reasons, hence increasing the chances of cancer. This problem could be taken care of using the technology explained above; i.e., CRISPER. The defected genes could be replaced by the healthy genes, hence altering the DNA of the patient. Because this job requires exceptionally advanced researches, it will take time to use it on the cancer patients.

Gene Therapies being used to treat cancer

There are various ways which do not cure cancer by 100% but help to some extent. Trials have been carried out to put some modified cells releasing protein for triggering other immune cells to eradicate the cancer cells and hence making the immune system strong. Some other treatments involve altering the cancer cells so that other cancer therapies work on them. Another type of treatments is using pro-drugs. Some genetically modified cells are put in the cancer cells and then pro-drug is given to the patient. When it reaches the cancer cells by bloodstream, it gets activated and hence destroys the cancer cells while the other cells remain unaffected.

 

Rajat CHAKRABORTY Written by:

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