A question that is personally asked by many is, can one grow or become any younger? Well throughout the past decade the introduction of gene therapy has developed rapidly within the field of biomedical research, in regards to the specialization of gene therapy. Gene therapy is treatment that involves modifying a default gene located inside the body of a cell for the soke purpose of stopping or treating untreatable diseases. The fundamental building blocks of gene therapy is centered around genetic itself. It is logically viewed that gene therapy can improve life span and increase longevity, but in reality this technology can only slow the process of aging down. Therefore this biotech isn’t a viable long termed treatment option.
For one, gene therapy can’t actually reverse aging. However, it can contribute to the slowing of the body’s degenerative state, but isn’t capable of reversing aging itself. Aging is a process of accumulated damage that affects the body’s normal function. As one ages the “damage”- irreversible changes to the body’s structure, builds up until it becomes intolerable for the physiology- body’s function, of the human anatomy to keep up with everyday functionalities, thus causing the development of diseases and disabilities as a side effect of aging. For this reason, gene therapy may not guarantee to bring back youth. Aging cannot be genetically adjusted with biotechnology, only compromised with complementary therapies and environmental factors to help slow aging down. This is because there isn’t an “aging” gene to manipulate desirably (S.Jay Olshangsky, Leonard Hayflick, Bruce A, Carnes 2002). Such approaches in order to delay the boy’s functional decline may be only effective as a short term treatment. Many of involvement therapies include hormonal treatment, administration of stem cell inoculation and the substitution of organ transplant. However these techniques may only momentary moderate the physiology deteriorate state of old age. “No genetic instructions are required to age animals, just as no instructions on how to age inanimate machines are included in their blueprints” From the stated facts, longevity cannot be extended through man-made technology but is manipulated directly under genetic control. Furthermore, aging is a by-product of evolutionary disregard not “evolutionary intent”. (S.Jay Olshangsky, Leonard Hayflick, Bruce A, Carnes 2002)
It is reportedly claimed from a 2015 gene therapy investigation, conducted on Elizabeth Parrish (Roy 2016) that gene therapy successfully rejuvenated her life expectancy by twenty years. Admittingly this breakthrough attributing to biomedical science provides every reason for one to be optimistic about gene therapy, however, many disturbing and potentially dangerous consequences apply when dealing with this new establishment of modern biotechnology.
Sure gene therapy may contribute to medical science but there are still many complications when it comes to the treatment itself. This is because the establishment of gene therapy is still in the development stage. On the contary, there many errors that can occur when one undergoes gene therapy treatment. For instance, one of the most popular technique to administer the modified gene to the host is through viral vectors – viruses. The viruses are classified into four main categories adenoviruses, retroviruses, Adeno-associated viruses and lentivirus (Ziqiang Yuan, Jessica Pastoriaz, Thomas Quinn, Steven K Libutti 2014). The clinical application for retrovirus and lentiviruses is to directly integrate themselves into the human genome. Whereas with retroviruses, it synthesis the DNA expression from RNA expression through reverse transcription. Retroviruses intergate into the chromosomes and transfer the genetic materials. Vectors are responsible for gene delivery and can be performed either with “In Vivo therapy” which involves a direct integration of genetically modified genes. Or through “Ex Vivo therapy” where cells are cultured and manipulated in a laboratory and returned to host cells, this technique is only applied to selected tissues such as bone marrow. (Ziqiang Yuan, Jessica Pastoriaz, Thomas Quinn, Setven K Libutti 2014)
However, relying on viruses isn’t a safety mechanism to deliver the modified genes to the targeted cells. One of the complications would be an unwanted immune system reaction; meaning a person’s immune response may react badly to the virus and attack the introduced vector. Consequently, the immune system can reject the contaminate (altered gene) before any new genetic material can be introduced properly. Introducing a virus into a human system is extremely risky; it is possible for the vector to taint with healthy cells instead, for this reason, diseases or illnesses may occur as a consequence from the infected healthy cells. Once the correct gene is administered to the targeted cells, it will commence rejuvenating the cells into embryonic state rapidly. Instantaneous cell growth promotes the formation of cancerous tumors, which generates from multiple developments of mutations. Mutations is a permanent modification to the DNA sequence of the genome. Therefore the development of numerous mutations results in the development of cancer cells. Mutations themselves may have negative effects on health factors, this is because the altered gene may become malfunctioned. By having rapid cell growth occurring over a short period of time to an entire organism proves many health complications, such as multiple organ failures that is triggered by the systemic inflammatory response – defense system reacting from an introduced threat. Gene therapy cannot guarantee the capability to reverse aging, as there are many unidentified complications that assist in therapy treatment. Therefore the consequences of structural changes of genetic materials outweighs the ability to increase life span. ZERO References in the paragraph
All of the alternative options have showed no signs of long term diminishing of senescence- biological aging process. Permanent interventions in regards to restoring youth will require more efficient gene based treatment to improve the homodynamic space. Homodynamic space by definition is the body stress response to commence repair and adaptation of the anatomy, thus equipping the body for survival. If the homodynamic space is increased, molecular damage will decrease from the activated repair system. Therfore the body’s functional abilites – organs, metabolism, will regain and improve its normal capabilities. – ZERO References in the paragraph
Gene therapy is based on new and expensive technology, and at this stage it comes with a high cost and will be only available for the wealthy. Gene therapy may have the potential in delivering a great future for public health but in juxtaposition to this idea, it is evident that this biotechnology is still in the making. The protocols are extensive because cells are drawn directly from bone marrow or blood samples from the patient and is proceeded to be manipulated outside of the body in a controlled and sterilized lab. The targeted cells needed for manipulation are stem cells because they are capable of dividing themselves to renew damaged organs or tissues. However, stem cells are scarce and limited from each genetic (blood) sample. For this reason, it can be proven that all of these exhaustive protocols and medical equipment will not come cheap, as it is currently listed as a 1 million dollar treatment. If gene therapy becomes only accessible for the wealthy then it will generate social structural problems. The dramatic class divide will prevent underprivileged patients to receive life-changing health care services. How will it be fair that this powerful technology that is “claimed” to rid genetic diseases and even cure aging, only be available to those who can afford the treatment? Shouldn’t health care be available and affordable for patients in need? On the other hand, even if the gene therapy does become accessible, even then, can the treatment be trusted knowing that it only has been developed based on the few that have previously undergone treatment. Furthermore, in distinction to this perspective, it is seen that this technology is unreliable because it had been developed with limited variability. These factors are important as it will impact how the treatment outcome will be influenced. Allegations regarding the ability to reverse aging theoretically sound full of potential but these statements are highly ambitious and deceiving. As it is proven that aging cannot be genetically modified with biotechnology but lay in the hand of genetics itself. ZERO References in the paragraph
The capabilities of gene therapy treatments are constrained for the reason being that this biotech is still in the making and is in no way ready for usage. Gene therapy is an unreliable approach to rejuvenate youth, from the unidentified side effects that compensate along with the treatment. Considering the price tag that comes along with gene therapy and the extensive protocols, gene therapy will generate division between social classes, because not everyone can afford these procedures. Until further research resolves the economic and biological issues relating to gene therapy, it is advised that patients should consider regulating behavioral and environmental factors such as balanced diets and regular exercise (Rattan 2015) to maintain the human anatomy that is directed towards moderating physiological decline.