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Genetic Modification and Alzheimer’s Disease Essay Sample

Genetic Disease Free Essay Example

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative irreversible illness which causes dementia and affects daily life owing to cognitive impairment. It is a chronic disease which slowly destructs memory, mind, and ruins the ability to perform simple tasks. It is hard to ascertain the beginning of the disease because the brain starts to destroy for decades before problems become evident. In general, people notice first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease after the age of 70 or 75; nevertheless, symptoms can appear earlier. One of the most effectual treatments for Alzheimer’s disease were claimed to be sex steroids and estrogen which are considered to protect the affected brain.

Scientists from all over the world are perpetually in search of the remedy that could prevent or, at least, delay the progression of the illness. Furthermore, no obvious reasons for Alzheimer’s disease have been found yet. However, while widening the knowledge about this destructive illness by means of experiments and researches, scientists observed that genes can be one of the main reasons for its progression. While scientific researchers are trying to find the appropriate cure, genetic engineering seems to be the key element in the treatment of the illness. Thus, Alzheimer’s disease starts with the destruction of nerve cells. As the brain is in a critical condition, nerve cells signalize with electrical impulses to other body parts. The brain dries up when cells ruin and cannot be replaced. Thus, neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine are helpful in this process. In fact, the lack of acetylcholine caused by nerve cells destruction impairs their transmission. The majority of ruined cells create such harmful deposits as plaques.

The main influential factors within the disease progress are two types of genes, namely risk genes and deterministic genes. It is evident that Alzheimer’s genes were found in both of them. Talking about risk genes, they are more probable to develop the disease, but it does not assure its occuring. As a matter of fact, the risk of Alzheimer’s disease is increasing due to few genes. Thus, APOE-e4 is the first identified risk gene which has the strongest influence on the disease development. In fact, each person inherits a copy of APOE form from parents. However, those people who inherit only one copy of APOE-e4 face the increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Those who inherit two copies incur a higher risk, but the disease is not guaranteed. In addition, APOE-e4 may reveal initial symptoms of the disease at a younger age. Furthermore, APOE-e4 consists in approximately 20-25 percent of Alzheimer’s cases.

Thus, it is evident that genetic engineering can aid in treating devastating Alzheimer’s disease which is caused by a malfunction of genes. Firstly, one can overcome it by using the body’s immune system. Researchers from Yale University discovered similar to dementia symptoms in bred of mice (Arnold, 2009). Scientists used genetic modification to block a certain reaction of the immune system in cells outside the brain. It resulted in plaques removal when defense cells known as macrophages were plunged into the brain. According to Professor Richard Flavell, it was like a vacuum cleaner which has removed the plaques (Arnold, 2009). Obviously, the discovery that yields positive results demands to be experimented on humans. Secondly, experiments with genetic engineering on mice made it possible to discover more about the disease progression and the consequences of medical intrusion. In 2006, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School explored that the memory loss and nerve cells destruction were caused by the removal of presenilin genes plunged in Alzheimer’s (Arnold, 2009). The genes promoted the creation of plaques. Nevertheless, the animals still lost memory and were ill with dementia; though the formation of plaque was smaller when the genes were absent from the mice models. The sufficiency of the experiment lies in the suggestion that various actions or drug treatment that removes presenilin genes could be harmful for the organism. Finally, gene therapy helps to replace defective genes with properly active genes. In 2005, it was reported that experiments concerning gene therapy have devised the method to delay the progression of the disease (Arnold, 2009). Though the appropriate cure was not found, the results were adequately reliable for prolonging further observation. Scientists transformed skin cells taken from patients to get nerve growth factor protein which every healthy brain contains. Thus, nerve growth factor producing cells had to be engrafted directly into destroyed areas of the brain through drilling holes in the patients’ head. Operated patients proved that their cognitive deviation was smaller than while taking medication. Even though a genetic modification treatment of Alzheimer’s is not ensured yet and certain molecular progression of the disease is not available, the optimism about treatment is reasonable as science is aimed at several pathological features.

Having considered the obvious benefit of genetic engineering, this notion still causes suspicion and fears. A considerable number of people are afraid of unexpected viruses causing cancer or that are vaccine-resistant. These fears are absolutely reasonable. Contemporary genetic engineering is not technically perfect. It is not possible to control artificially plunged genes which strongly destruct the original genetic code of the cell. Therefore, it is extremely hard to identify the necessary place where genes should be intruded as well as predict the possible result. Consequently, it is possible to generate dangerous. The vast experience in the sphere of biology and medicine proved that experiments with genetics can have immensely unpleasant consequences. Nevertheless, experiments and research in the sphere of genetic engineering are carried out by serious and responsible scientists whose actions are aimed at excluding the possibilities of accidental creation and spread of dangerous viruses.