Gene Therapy (Dr. Charles Link, M.D.)
Dr. Charles Link is using gene therapy to research diseases and treat cancers. Explore the medical possibilities provided by genetic engineering.
Transcript: Gene Therapy
When you think about gene therapy, there's often a misconception that people have that somehow we're changing evolution or we're changing people in some weird way, or some science fiction way--the way you read about in science fiction books or see on Star Trek. But in actuality what's happening is you're only going in and changing [the genetic makeup] in one person or in one tissue in that person. You're not changing the whole person and you're not changing anything about the children that person would have. In gene therapy, ethicists and people in the field have basically discussed three basic types of gene therapy. One is what we call somatic cell gene therapy. The example of that is trying to treat a patient with cancer. You try to go into a single patient and you try to get the genes into a cancer to just destroy the cancer tissue. So in that situation you're going into the human body in a single person and you're trying to change the genes in some tissue like a cancer. Or maybe there's an enzyme missing in the liver and you're trying to put in a new enzyme. That's somatic cell gene therapy. And currently in the United States, those are the only types of experiments that are allowed to be done in humans because they're therapeutic experiments and gene marking experiments. They're done in a very controlled fashion.