In ex vivo gene therapy, a type of cell-based therapy, the process happens outside the body. First, affected cells are removed from the body. In the lab, functional genetic material is introduced into the cells and are then delivered back into the patient’s body (i.e. CAR-T therapy).
In gene editing, the idea is to make changes to the original DNA. This technique makes it possible to repair the original DNA or add new DNA in a specific location. Zinc finger nucleases and CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) are methods of gene editing being researched.
With the method of gene therapy called gene transfer, a functional gene is inserted into a cell with the intent that it will work in place of the mutated gene (i.e. vector-based delivery). Viral, chemical, and physical methods are being explored for transferring genes. The transfer of the new gene occurs inside the body (in vivo) after systemic delivery, often using an IV infusion. The original genetic material in the chromosomes is intended to be left unchanged. This means the mutated gene would still be there and can still be passed on to a person’s offspring.
50+ Years of Research
Gene therapy has been explored as a potential treatment approach for more than 50 years.
More than 2500 gene therapy studies have been completed, are ongoing, or have been initiated worldwide.
To explore current research in gene therapy, visit ClinicalTrials.gov for more information.
A timeline on gene therapy
Spot and Pop the Mutations
Mutations can come in multiple forms and are responsible for most genetic conditions, including hemophilia A or B and cystic fibrosis. Play our simple game, Mutation Pop, to identify four of the most common forms of genetic mutations that can lead to genetic conditions:
- Errors in a single strand of DNA
- A repeated DNA sequence
- Added DNA where it doesn’t belong
- Missing pieces of DNA
In this game you will have to quickly spot the mutated genes and pop as many as possible while allowing the functional genes to pass through. Find out if you have what it takes to earn the highest score!
Many gene therapies are in ongoing clinical trials for a range of conditions to determine the potential risks and benefits.
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