Should we be afraid of gene therapy?

Józef Dulak


Gene therapy is a therapeutic method which uses nucleic acid and usually consists of the introduction of the correct form of a gene into the cells of the patient. In such therapy patients are also given additional copies of poorly functioning genes or the expression of overactive genes is blocked. In the latter case noncoding proteins of nucleic acid fragments are used, such as antisense oligonucleotides, ribosomes, oligonucleotide traps or small interfering RNA elements.

Much is expected of gene therapy, but it is also feared. For this reason it has been and is subjected to rigorous regulations, stricter than in the case of classical pharmacological therapy. In the present paper I call attention to the disproportion between such restrictions and the risk connected with gene therapy, which is no greater than that of other therapeutic methods. I also discuss the problem of side-effects that have recently appeared as a result of gene therapy in the form of complex immune deficiency, and I present the ethical problems that are connected with this therapeutic strategy.

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