Gene therapy is one of mankinds most controversial invention to help in the fight against disease. In this essay I will extensively explain the definition of gene therapy and the types of therapy. I will also write a brief paragraph on the history of gene therapy and how W. French Anderson proposed the first gene therapy and the first ever candidate that was used. How does gene therapy affect both society and individuals will be discussed and also the social costs to individuals and society also. Lastly I will explore both the financial costs to individuals and society and the ethical and legal issues that arise.Gene therapy is a medical treatment that is used to help prevent or treat a disease that affects cells by replacing, removing or introducing new genes into the body of the affected person or foetus. It is otherwise manipulating a person's genetic material. An example being the ability to add a gene to a cell to produce a specific missing protein. Gene therapy seeks to alter a gene as gene therapy researchers are trying to improve the body's natural ability to fight disease. Gene therapy can be targeted to somatic or germ cells. In somatic gene therapy the recipient's genome is changes but the change is not passed along to the next generation, which means the disease can be passed along. In germ-line gene therapy the parent's egg or sperm cell are changed with the goal of passing the changes to their offspring. Overall gene therapy is the correction of a gene defect, which directly underlies a disease, or disorder and the correction would take place in the somatic cells of the affected individuals.In 1987 W. French Anderson proposed the first gene therapy. Anderson encountered much critism but continued his work on gene therapy. On September 14th, 1990 researchers at the United States National Institutes Of Health performed the first gene therapy procedure. This was attempted on four-year-old Ashanti Desivla. Ms Desivla

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Gene therapy is a relatively new medical field (conceptualized in 1972) where genes are introduced into existing cells to prevent or cure a wide range of diseases. Genes are the basic unit of heredity.  An offspring inherits the physical and other characteristics from its parents because of the information present in the genes that the offspring gets from its parents. Many a times a mutant gene from parent is passed on to the offspring and it results in the hereditary diseases like colorblindness or hemophilia. Gene therapy aims to modify the genes of the offspring in order to prevent such hereditary diseases. The DNA is carefully selected to correct the effect of a mutated gene causing the disease. Scientist intent to treat the diseases which have no cures yet with the help of gene therapy.  

There are several techniques to carry out the gene therapy: ·        
Gene Augmentation Therapy: This therapy is used when the DNA is to be added into the mutated cell. Suppose a disease is caused when due to some mutation, a gene stops producing protein A. To treat this disease, doctors add DNA containing functional version of the host gene back into the cell of the patient. After the introduction of the new DNA, the cells of the patient are capable of producing protein A and hence the disease is cured. Cystic fibrosis is cured by gene augmentation therapy.
Gene inhibition therapy: The aim of this therapy is to introduce DNA into the host which inhibits the functioning of a specific gene of the host. It is mainly used for the treatment of diseases caused by the inappropriate activity of a gene eg cancer. Cancer is caused when a group of cells start dividing rapidly in our body because of the over-activation of oncogene. By inhibiting the activity of oncogene by gene inhibition therapy, we can stop the further cell growth and widespread of cancer.
Killing of specific cells: 
In this therapy, a ‘suicide’ DNA is inserted into the diseased cell that results in the death of the cell. This therapy is widely used to kill the cancer cells. Cancer is caused by the rapid growth and division of cells. When ‘suicide’ DNA is inserted into the cancer cells, the number of cancer cells reduce in the body and our immune system is capable to fight cancer and prevent rapid replication. It is very essential that only the diseased cells are inserted with the ‘suicide’ DNA and not the normal functioning cells.

Although gene therapy seems to have a bright future in the treatment of inherited disorders or cancers but it brings with itself a number of risks and possibilities of errors. Gene therapy is an exciting new approach to cure the incurable diseases. It certainly holds the potential to revolutionize the medical field. Like a library, genes hold complete information about the human body. By learning more about them, we can learn more about our body and about the ways to treat the life threatening diseases. But gene therapy is not as easy as grabbing a cold syrup if you have a sore throat. A lot many tests need to be done to be sure which part of the cell or the DNA is causing disorder. The doctor needs to be very cautious while killing the infected cells because if the normal functioning cells are injected with the wrong DNA, the patient instead of recuperating might get sicker. Not only are there many risks involved and precautions to be taken when it comes to opting for gene therapy, but also the expense to get treated by gene therapy is very high. A lot is yet to be studied and researched to make this field of medicine safe enough to be used on a large scale.