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Biotechnology: Discussing Gene Therapy

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Biotechnology allows us to use living organisms or their processes for human needs or purposes. This current topic includes such examples as cloning, stem cells (adult, umbilical cord, and embryonic), DNA fingerprinting, biological warfare, bioremediation, genetically modified organisms, vaccines, and transgenic plants and animals to name a few.

Research how gene therapy is used today and answer the following questions:
1. Briefly describe this process or application.
2. What benefits are derived from this?
3. Are there any concerns or negative impacts associated with this use of biotechnology? Why or why not?

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Solution Preview

1. Okay, so, genes are basically the blueprints or instructions that proteins (which do all the work) use to carry out the daily functions of life. Therefore, when genes get changed/mutated, for whatever reason, proteins cannot carry out their duties correctly. This can lead to many problems (like death) even at a very small error level as the dynamics between the life processes in our body often require a balanced and exact harmony.

To try and correct these genetic anomalies, we have come up with gene therapy which, broadly, is a process used to correct malfunctioning genes that subsequently cause problems (genetic defects). There are a few general ways to go about gene therapy. ...