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A2 Biology Unit 5 > Gene Therapy > Flashcards

Flashcards in Gene Therapy Deck (29):

What is cystic fibrosis?

What is cystic fibrosis? A genetic disease affecting the exocrine glands. It causes the production of abnormally thick mucus, leading to the blockage of the pancreatic ducts, intestines, and bronchi and often resulting in respiratory infection.


Why does CF cause a respiratory problems?

Missing triplet in the gene coding for chloride pumps
CFTR protein not formed properly
Chloride ions are not pumped to the inside surface of the lungs/out of epithelial cells
The water potential of the mucus is not lowered, so water does not enter the mucus from the cell by osmosis
Causes the mucus to be thick and sticky
Inhibits respiration (as moist surface req. on alveoli for gas ex.)


What is the aim of gene therapy?

To treat a genetic disease by replacing defective genes in a patient with copies of a new DNA sequence or by supplementing defective genes with non defective ones


State two possible methods for replacing defective genes

Somatic cell therapy and germ line therapy


What are the day to day treatments of CF?

Antibiotics used to fight off infections
Inhaling enzymes that break down the mucus allowing it to be coughed up
Diet high in calories and rich in fat and protein as not much absorbed
Insulin and other drugs to treat symptoms of CF like diabetes
Daily chest physiotherapy massage to keep airways open


Define: Gene therapy

The deliberate 'repair' or replacement of damaged genes


Describe how germ line therapy works

Replacement of genes in a blastocyst or eggs/sperm
Blastocyst/gametes removed and screened
Cell from blastocyst removed/gametes isolated
Cell/gametes are treated by insertion of new gene
IVF (rest of a blastocyst can be disposed of) and (re)implantation


Describe the advantages and disadvantages of germ line therapy

+ Child is born completely healthy with no chance of having the disease (no symptoms)
- Ethical issues with altering blastocysts


Describe somatic cell therapy

Healthy allele is added to the affected cells (eg via an asthma pump). Supplementation
This requires repeated application of the gene as the cells have limited life spans and do not pass the supplemented "healthy" allele onto the next generation


State two delivery methods for somatic cell therapy used to treat CF in the lungs

Using (adeno)viruses which have had the healthy CFTR allele inserted
Using liposomes containing plasmids with the healthy CFTR allele
Both delivery methods sprayed into lungs


What are some symptoms of CF?

Build up of mucus in the lungs, pancreatic duct and sperm ducts
Pancreatic duct is blocked so enzymes don't reach duodenum and digestion is incomplete/impaired
Large apetite
Congestion and difficulty in breathing due to mucus in lungs
Increased likelihood of lung infection


Describe how adenoviruses are used to treat CF in the lungs

Healthy CFTR gene removed from donor cell of a person who does not have CF
The gene is cut out using restriction enzymes
Viruses are grown in a sample of epithelial cells
Plasmids extracted and cut using same restriction enzymes to produce the matching sticky ends
DNA ligase used to splice DNA fragment to plasmid
Plasmids taken up by adenoviruses and gene becomes part of viral DNA
Viruses isolated and purified and then sprayed/inhaled into lungs
Viral DNA passed to epithelial cells' nuclei


What are the advantages and disadvantages of using adenoviruses to treat CF?

+ Provides treatment of disease/relieves symptoms without genetic screening of embryoes
- Immune system can develop resistance/create antibodies for the viruses so the virus type must be changed often for treatment
- Delivery in inefficient, unsure if the allele is delivered and not all epithelial cells' DNA will be changed
- Non-permanent fix - supplemented gene not passed onto the next generation
- Virus may revert to a disease causing form


Describe how liposomes with plasmid vectors are made and used to treat CF in the lungs

Plasmids with the healthy CFTR allele are inserted into bacteria
Bacteria multiply and produce many copies of the plasmid
Plasmids extracted and coated in a sphere of phospholipids forming a liposome
Sprayed into lungs via nasal/mouth spray/inhaler
Thses liposomes can easily pass through the cell membranes of the epithelial cells in the lungs


What is a vector?

Plasmid which transfers genetic material into a cell from somewhere else (eg. a virus, another bacterium or a liposome)


What are some advantages of gene therapy?

Treatment of genetic diseases/relief of
Ability to fully cure a genetic disease


What are some disadvantages of gene therapy?

Belief that screening is an invasion of privacy
Possible increase in number of abortions and ethical issues associated with this
Individuals known to be carriers/affected are put in higher risk groups for insurance making insurance difficult to get/very expensive
Regulation of therapy so that it is only used to treat diseases and not used to modify/choose characteristics in a child ("designer babies")


Define: Recombinant DNA

DNA which results from the combination of fragments from two different organisms/when foreign DNA is incorporated into the plasmid from a bacterium


Define: Restriction endonuclease

Enzymes which cut DNA molecules between specific base sequences


State some of the applications of genetic engineering

Transfer of genes into bacteria to produce useful enzymes or proteins like insulin
Transfer of new genes into crops and livestock so they acquire beneficial traits (eg Disease resistance)
Transfer of genes into humans to cure genetic diseases


What are the main stages in gene transfer, as used in genetic therapy

Isolation of the specific DNA fragment/gene
Insertion of the foreign DNA fragment/gene into a vector
Insertion of vector into suitable hosts for replication
Identification of the cells that took up the gene by use of genetic markers
Growth of the host cells
Extraction of the vectors containing the specific gene


State some disadvantages of using recombinant DNA technology?

Quantity production of complex proteins or peptides which cannot be made by other methods
Removal of the need to use extracts from mammalian organs
Uses in the production of higher yield crops with superior traits
Health benefits in treating genetic diseases


State some disadvantages of using recombinant DNA technology?

Concerns over its misuse
Technically complicated and therefore very expensive on an industrial scale
Difficulties in identifying the genes of value in a large genome
Synthesis of the required protein may involve several genes each coding for a single polypeptide
Treatment of DNA with restriction enzymes produces millions of fragments which are of no use
Not all eukaryote genes will express themselves in prokaryrote cells


What is so dangerous about bacteria being able to readily exchange genetic material?

This recombinant DNA may get into other organisms
Could lead to herbicide resistant weeds


What are the advantages of treating CF with gene therapy as opposed to using non-genetic treatments?

Gene therapy is more effective and reduces/treats the symptoms (more/better)
Reduces the number of injections and antibiotics needed to be taken by the patient
Removes the need for dietary restrictions on patient
Less intensive monitoring of patient needed


Describe arguments for and against the genetic screening of normal individuals for genetic disorders

+ Prevents disease causing alleles being passed on
+ Reduces the incidence of the gene in the population
- Increased anxiety in patients who may not develop the disease
- Which can affect lifestyle choices
- Confidentiality issues
- Insurance companies may refuse cover to individuals with disease causing alleles


Why must the same restriction enzyme be used to cut the vector plasmid and the chromosomal DNA when forming recombinant DNA?

To give matching sticky ends so that the foreign DNA fragment can be joined to the vector DNA by complementary base pairing


What is the function of DNA ligase in gene therapy?

Splice sticky ends together and thus join the foreign DNA fragment into the vector DNA


What events must occur once a normal CFTR gene is inserted into a lung epithelial cell of a patient with CF for the treatment to work?

Gene gets into the nucleus
Gene is incorporated/inserted into chromosome
Transcription of gene and translation of resulting mRNA to give rise to the functional protein