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Biotechnology – Gene Therapy


Biotechnology is the use of organisms or their derivatives that are modified to suit human needs. This field is gaining popularity in different fields like medicine, agriculture, and food science where different products are produced in large amounts overcoming obstacles that have rocked these fields. For instance, it is easy now to produce insulin in large amounts from bacteria and this helps doctors to deal with the issue of diabetes efficiently. This paper looks into gene therapy.

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Gene Therapy

Gene therapy is used widely in the treatment of diseases like cancer, Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, (SCID), and AIDS among other diseases. Normal genes or cells, manufactured in laboratories are used to supplement defective genes or cells in the body of a human (Health Canada, 2005). In gene therapy, there are two modes of delivering desired results. The first one is in vitro gene therapy. In this case, experts obtain the defective cells from the bone marrow and grow them in the laboratory. After growing these cells, the defect is corrected by replacing the defective genes with functional ones. This correction occurs by the use of viruses that act as vectors to introduce the desired genes in these cells in the laboratory (Health Canada, 2005). After the cells undergo correction in the laboratory, they are injected back into the patient’s body where they grow and start producing the desired genes.

The other form is in vivo gene therapy whereby, vectors like viruses are injected into the body of the patient without necessarily obtaining cells from the patient. Viruses are the most preferred vectors because they have a simple genetic makeup that can be knocked off and replaced with the desired genetic material. The purpose of a vector is to offer a transfer mechanism that offers a favorable environment for the genes that are being transferred. The viruses attack the target cells releasing the desirable genetic materials into these cells, which then incorporate them into their DNA.

This application is a form of biotechnology because there is the use of living organisms to meet human needs. Viruses, acting as vectors transfer genetic material into the patient and this qualifies this process as a biotechnology process.

The benefits of this application are innumerable for diseases that posed great challenges to treatment are now treatable. Some of the diseases that have been treated using gene therapy include SCID and diabetes type one. In SCID patients, the T or B immune cells either are compromised or absent. By use of gene therapy, doctors have successfully replaced these defective immune cells thus correcting the defect. In diabetes type one; gene therapy has been to replace the non-functional pancreatic cells with functional ones that can produce insulin


Gene therapy is a form of biotechnology for it uses viruses, which are living organisms, to deliver desired genes into the body of a patient. However, there are concerns about this or any other form of biotechnology. Ethically, it is expensive and only available to the rich hence discriminating against the poor. Religiously, biotechnology amounts to genetic manipulation; something against the beliefs of many people for this is tantamount to challenging works of creation. Scientifically, biotechnology or gene therapy per se is not foolproof. There is the probability that insertion of genetic material into the human body may fail or occur wrongly hence complicating the whole process of treatment (Kolehmainen, 2009).


Health Canada. (2005). Gene Therapy. Science and Research. Web. 

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Kolehmainen, S. (2009). The Dangerous Promise of Gene Therapy. Web.

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