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The sequencing of the human genome has been compared to putting a man on the moon, and it will certainly change health care, but the most important work lies ahead, in determining how to put the......
The sequencing of the human genome has been compared to putting a man on the moon, and it will certainly change health care, but the most important work lies ahead, in determining how to put the information to medical use. In this context, applications such as gene therapy are being explored. What was once seen as a science fiction dream is now becoming a real possibility.
Gene therapy is a new form of drug delivery that leads the patient's own cells to produce a therapeutic agent. It could potentially eliminate the need for repeated administration of proteins or drugs. Applications of gene therapy not only include rare inherited diseases but extend to common acquired disorders, including tumours (predominantly malignant melanoma) and haematological disorders, cardiovascular disease, and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Gene therapy therefore could be a key element of medical practice in the future. Gene therapy is the insertion of genes into an individual's cells and tissues to treat a disease, and hereditary diseases in which a defective mutant allele is replaced with a functional one. Although the technology is still in its infancy, it has been used with some success. Antisense therapy is not strictly a form of gene therapy, but is a genetically-mediated therapy and is often considered together with other methods.