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Autocrine interferon (INF)-b production by somatic cell gene therapy 344
Reason: Why haven't researchers been more successful in using somatic cell gene therapy - replacing defective genes in a patient's tissues with normal versions - to cure genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis?
Silver: Somatic cell gene therapy is very difficult to do.
There are a lot of people working with somatic cell gene therapy who are very smart, and maybe they will figure out the magic bullet that will get the DNA into the right cells and make it work.
In general, the ethical analysis of somatic cell gene therapy follows in broad outline an analysis similar to that of the introduction of any new medical therapy.
Indeed, what is known as somatic cell gene therapy is becoming a standard method for treating both kinds of diseases.
Clinical trials using human patients have demonstrated the feasibility of somatic cell gene therapy in humans, successfully correcting genetic defects in a large number of cell types.
We analyzed the risk/benefit determination for somatic cell gene therapy and proposed three questions that need to have been answered from prior animal experimentation: Can the new gene be inserted stably into the correct target cells?
But successful somatic cell gene therapy also opens the door for enhancement genetic engineering, that is, for supplying a specific characteristic that individuals might want for themselves (somatic cell engineering) or their children (germline engineering) which would not involve the treatment of a disease.
A line can and should be drawn between somatic cell gene therapy and enhancement genetic engineering.
One day, somatic cell gene therapy also may help those with cancers that don't respond to traditional methods.