What is gene therapy?

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Our genes are part of what makes us unique. Inherited from our parents, they go far in determining our physical traits - like the colour of our eyes, and the colour and texture of our hair. Genes are composed of strands of a molecule called DNA, and are located in single file within the chromosomes. 
Scientists believe that every human has about 25,000 genes per cell. A mutation, or change, in any one of these genes can result in a disease, physical disability, or shortened life span. These mutations can be passed from one generation to another. 
Gene therapy attempts to treat genetic diseases at the molecular level by correcting what is wrong with defective genes. The genes respon­sible for the disease first need to be identified, and to do this, genetic testing is undertaken. Once the gene has been identified, gene therapy is started. It is an emerging medical technology that involves the addition of DNA to the human genome in order to replace a defective gene. Gene therapy carries the promise of cures for many diseases, and for types of medical treatment most of us would not have thought possible.
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