MadSci Network: Genetics

Re: Is there a difference between gene therapy and genetic engineering?

Date: Fri Jun 16 12:16:01 2000
Posted By: Jo Cocks, Undergraduate, Biology with Education, Cambridge
Area of science: Genetics
ID: 957448788.Ge

Dear Leah, 

I'm glad to hear you are so interested in genetics, it is certainly a very 
interesting field and one in which there are still many things to find out.

Basically, genetic engineering refers to a wide range of things, including 
producing large numbers of human proteins etc to treat people with 
illnesses such as diabetes. Genetic engineering involves putting a foreign 
gene into a cell so that the cell produces any substances that that gene 
codes for. So genetic engineering can be used in bacteria, plants and 
animals ( it is what is used to create genetically modified  - GM - crops 
that you may have heard about)

Gene therapy can also be used to treat people with illnesses but in a 
different way. If scientists find one gene that, when faulty, is 
responsible for a condition such as cystic fibrosis then they may be able 
to treat people with that illness by giving them doses of the 'correct' 
form of that gene. 

I hope this helps

Jo Cocks

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