One of the major developments in the field of molecular biology and engineering is the use of gene therapy approach as a treatment for the cure of Type I Diabetes. With constant investigations in the field, there are several ways in which the gene therapy approach are being used and researched upon. If gene therapy were to be used as a practical treatment, it would offer some of the major breakthroughs in the treatment. More importantly, it would help in curbing the continuous intake of insulin injections and also meet with the shortage or destruction of islet cells in the pancreatic or islet cell transplantation.
The gene therapy approach is based on the development of clones of insulin producing cells, which are then injected into the diabetes patient. While gene therapy can be used in several forms, this approach is still being extensively experimented on mice and rats. There is still a long way to go in the process.
The gene therapy approach can be used as a treatment of Type I Diabetes in different ways. The most common approach is the use of viral vectors which carry the gene construct and which is then induces into the body of the patient. Taken by the patient in the form of oral medication, the process creates limited amount of insulin in the body and targeted to organs having high level of glucose. The insulin generation can be controlled with changes in the intake of oral medication. Some of the cells which are usually targeted in the process are the exocrine, myocytes and pituary cells. Another process by which the gene therapy may be used is avoiding the complete destruction of the beta cells by genetically modulating the pre-existing beta cells. This method can be used for Diabetes patients who are at a stage when the autoimmune destruction has begun but has not reached its peak. Another possibility with the gene therapy approach is the regeneration of the beta cells in the body by inducing insulin DNA constructs which would facilitate the transformation of the duodenum cells into beta cells.
However, there are many complications in the gene therapy approach. While many experiments have been done in animals, these are yet to be reproduced in human beings. Moreover, the clinical experiments are extremely expensive and tedious. These need to be done at an extremely controlled environment, which might not be the case in real life. There is also a need to control the amount of beta cells being produced in the body, which can be neither less nor more. The biggest problem in gene therapy is however the lack of safe viral vectors, used in most gene transfers. There has been much research in vector designing, but there is still much to be done. All the ways in which the human body can take DNA transplants is yet to be seen. Thus the area of gene therapy is still being developed, but when achieved, it can lead to much breakthroughs in molecular biology.
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