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Gene Therapy for Cancer

There are many different types of treatment for patients who have cancer, and gene therapy is an impressive option that may be available as a cancer treatment sometime in the future. Gene therapy is still being studied and more is being learned about it all the time, so participation in gene therapy studies is likely the only way that this type of therapy can currently be obtained. Gene therapy is used to treat different genetic diseases, including cancer. Any type of therapy or treatment that is specifically designed to alter a gene’s normal structure or its function is considered gene therapy.  

In cancer patients, gene therapy involves replacing defective genes with normal or modified genes. In certain clinical trials, the patients’ own T cells (white blood cells) were removed, after which they were modified by using harmless viruses that gave the patients’ cells new genes. Once they were modified and placed back inside the body, the T cells were able to attack certain cells in the body, including CLL tumor cells ad B cells. On average, each member of the study group lost at least two pounds of tumor, and every single T cell that was genetically modified was able to destroy on average thousands of tumor cells. These results surprised the doctors who were involved in the clinical trials and showed how helpful gene therapy can potentially be if used as a cancer treatment in the future.  

Because cancer is a disease with various genetic changes, gene therapy can potentially be a very helpful treatment once the testing stage is over and it is shown to be a safe treatment.  Gene therapy is not yet a standard cancer treatment, and the only way to receive gene therapy is most likely by becoming a member of a gene therapy study or clinical trial. If you are interested in becoming a member of a gene therapy study or clinical trial, talk to your doctor and find out if this is a viable option for you 

Preparation for Gene Therapy:. Much is still unknown about gene therapy, so it is important to make sure that the potential benefits will outweigh the risks. Your doctor will also be able to help you understand what you need to do to prepare for gene therapy procedures.  

Procedure: Gene therapy is still being extensively studied, and there is very little information that has been published about how the procedure is administered and how exactly it works. If you are thinking about becoming a test subject for gene therapy, talk to your doctor about the different types of procedures you can expect to take part in.  

Types or Techniques Used: There is very little published information about the various techniques used in the study of gene therapy, but we do know that recent studies have involved removing patients’ T cells and then genetically modifying them before placing them back in the body to attack tumor cells and B cells. Since gene therapy is still going through a study period, it is difficult to state what types of procedures will be used if gene therapy becomes a standard cancer treatment. If you become part of a study or clinical trial, then your doctor will inform you of the techniques and types of gene therapy that you will go through as part of the study or clinical trial.  

Recovery Time: Because there is little published information regarding gene therapy and it is still being studied, the recovery time for gene therapy is still unknown. If gene therapy makes it through the testing stage and emerges as a new form of cancer treatment, more information regarding recovery time will then be available.  

Risks and Side Effects of Gene Therapy: If you plan to participate in a clinical trial or study of gene therapy, be sure to talk to your doctor and find out the potential risks and side effects so that you can make an educated decision about whether or not to participate.