Altering Genes in order to Eliminate Diseases

Altering Genes in order to Eliminate Diseases


Gene therapy encompasses the alteration of cellular DNA or the cell’s genetic material in order to correct an identified mutation that can culminate to different genetic diseases (Bunnell & Morgan, 1998). This method came into use in the 1990’s where scientific innovations introduced the method of changing different aspects of the human baby before its conception in order to obtain a perfect baby. Gene therapy has contributed in so many ways to the nursing profession as well as the provision of better patient care. Its effects have been felt especially in the research nursing research field. This paper therefore focuses on the development of gene therapy, how it arose, the science and technology behind the phenomena and its effects on the nursing profession and its effects on the provision of patient care. It also deals with the recommendations that could be made in the utilization of the gene therapy to improve the medical practice as well as the nursing profession. Though gene therapy has many barriers that can hinder its application, it has gained a lot of popularity with those patients suffering from genetic diseases.


Gene therapy is a scientific innovation that has elevated the medical and nursing profession into success. Its development originates from Preimplantation genetic diagnosis, which was used in the 1990’s during the selection of children’s sexes. Due to the in surge of different genetic diseases, which could be passed from the mother to the unborn babies the research, scientist came up with the idea of using gene therapy to correct the genetic diseases that were because of gene mutation (Hewitt, 2003). Research scientists therefore started to carry out investigation on how genetic mutation could be reversed through gene therapy thus eradicating genetic diseases. Another contribution to the wide spread use of gene therapy is the unpopularity organ transplant as a treatment to genetic diseases as it was followed by medication to ensure that the implanted organ is not rejected by the body. The method has been used in the treatment of such diseases as Tay-Sachs disease, Down’s syndrome, sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, Cooley’s anemia and Huntington’s chorea.

Science and technology used

Gene therapy can be divided into two types, germline and somatic gene therapy. Germline gene therapy can be carried out through Preimplantation genetic diagnosis, in which embryos are cultured in the lab and those that do not contain any mutation are implanted into the womb of the mother to be eliminating any type of genetic diseases. Somatic gene therapy encompasses the utilization of viruses in the altering of incorrect genetic sequence found in the bodies of diseased patients, which is known as viral vector mediated gene therapy (Bauman, 2004). This method is ethically advantageous as compared to embryonic stem cells because it does not involve the culturing of embryos in the lab that degrades human life. In this, the pathogenic matter in viruses is removed and replaced with useful treatment sequence, which is introduced into the human body. Due to the fast replication characteristic of viruses, the correction of the genes takes place at a faster rate. The DNA sequence of the mutated gene is replaced by the correct sequence found in the virus thus reversing the effect of the genetic disease.

The process can be hampered by the detection of the virus invasion against which the immune system reacts through the production of protease, which digests the virus proteins. To prevent this, researchers have come up with viruses that can avoid their elimination through breaking down the MHC molecule using proteins or through the production of proteins, which engage in the competition for the binding with MHC peptide (Hewitt, 2003). Though the most popular method of gene therapy utilized in medical practice is the viral vector mediated gene therapy, other alternative methods can also be used. These include Electroporation, which uses electric shock in the opening of the plasma membrane allowing the entry of the correct sequence into the cell for the binding with the mutated gene to correct the mutation. The other method encompasses utilization of microRNA’s in the regulation of protein expression in the cells. The incorrect protein expression is thus regulated to the unmutated levels thus eliminating any chances of the occurrence of the genetic diseases (Duan, 2006). This method is unrealistic though because of the mRNA sequences characteristic of interacting with different mRNA strands thus eliminating its specialization effect on the mutated mRNA strands, which should be corrected. Researchers are utilizing naked DNA in the treatment of the heart diseases.

Effects on Nursing Practice

Oncology nurses are mostly affected by gene therapy because they will require more knowledge about the application of the different methods of gene therapy in the case of cancer, which will necessitate their participation in clinical trials, as well as the development of relevant and different nursing development plans (Lea, 1997). In the same way, the advances made in genetic testing will increase the role of the nurses in education, provision of genetic services, nursing research and direct patient care. The participation of the nurses will be enhanced in the development of the social issues that can affect and are related to cancer gene therapy. The nurses are able to provide care that is more specialized to the patients due to their understanding of the gene therapy especially in the case of the provision of genetic information to those patients in need of it.


Gene therapy enhances the understanding of the nurses about the wholesome of the human growth and development whose DNA hindrance can be changed through gene therapy thus enhancing the growth of genetic disease free human beings. Gene therapy reduces the work of nurses because it requires minimal hospitalization as compared to other types of treatments (Lea, 1997). The patients on the other side do not require a lot of care because the treatment is not followed by immunosuppressant medication, which is a requirement after organ transplant treatment. The nursing profession has been steered towards advanced research with the coming up of gene therapy culminating into highly qualified professionals that have never emerged from the profession before.


Gene therapy can be utilized in the sharpening of the genetic counseling skills of the nurses as they can provide the genetic information to patients such that the patients can make informed decisions where their health is concerned. Gene therapy can be utilized in the evolution of treatments such as HIV-AIDS, which has proven to be a menace in the world. More research should be conducted on the alternative methods of gene therapy so that their effectiveness can be enhanced. This will ensure that all patients have enough methods to choose from, as some will react adversely to viral vector mediated gene therapy meaning that they cannot be able to access this type of treatment.

Genetic diseases have been the main concern of many researchers because they are passed from the mother to the unborn child during pregnancy. They are as a result of genetic mutation. Research scientists therefore have come up with ways of removing the incorrect DNA from the bodies of the patients thus reducing the chances of the occurrence of the diseases. This phenomenon is called gene therapy. It encompasses two types, which are somatic, and germline gene therapy. Somatic gene therapy involves the treatment of genetic diseases during the growth and development of patients after their birth (Bauman, 2004). Germline gene therapy involves the correction of the mutated genes before the conception of an embryo where the embryos are cultured in a lab and later introduced into a human womb without any mutated genes. The best type of gene therapy utilized in the modern world is the viral vector mediated gene therapy, which includes the changing of the replacement of viral genome with the correct sequence then introducing that viral genome into the cells thus correcting the DNA matter of the cell. Other methods of gene therapy exist but their significance and application is limited as compared to that of viral vector mediated gene therapy. These methods include Electroporation and the utilization of microRNA’s in the regulation of protein expression in the cells. Gene therapy has enhanced the improvement of research in the nursing profession especially in oncology nursing.



Bauman, R.W. (2004). Microbiology. San Francisco, CA: Benjamin-Cummings Publishing Company

Bunnell, B. A. & Morgan, R. A. (1998). Gene therapy for infectious diseases. Clinical Microbiology Revision, 11, 42-56

Duan, D. (2006). Challenges and opportunities in dystrophin-deficient cardiomyopathy gene therapy. Human Molecular Genetics, 15, 253-61.

Hewitt, E. W. (2003). The MHC class I antigen presentation pathway: strategies for viral immune evasion. Immunology, 110, 163-169.

Lea, D., H. (1997). Gene therapy: current and future implications for oncology nursing practice. Seminal Oncolology Nursing, 13, 115-22.




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