We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Somatic Gene Therapy?

By Samantha Bangayan
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Gene therapy involves transferring good genes into cells to replace harmful genes. There are two specific types: genes transferred into germ line cells (reproductive cells) and genes transferred into somatic cells (body cells). In somatic gene therapy, altered genes are inserted into the affected part of the body, or body cells are removed, treated with altered genes, and replaced. People using this kind of therapy include patients with diseases such as cancer, hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, and muscular dystrophy. Positive aspects patients may expect include health benefits, safety, and less ethical concerns than germ line gene therapy, but negative aspects may include lifetime treatments and problems with gene delivery.

Doctors can conduct somatic gene therapy in vivo or ex vivo. With in vivo therapy, doctors transfer the altered gene directly into the body, usually into the tissue. For example, genes are inserted into the skin for patients with skin cancer and into the muscles for patients with muscular dystrophy. For the ex vivo technique, doctors often remove afflicted cells, blood cells, or bone marrow cells from the patient’s body. After inserting the desired gene into the cells, they are injected back into the body.

One of the leading pros of somatic gene therapy is also a con: People who undergo somatic gene therapy do not pass on the altered genes to their offspring because only body cells are modified, not reproductive cells. This is positive because there are no ethical concerns about tampering with natural infant development as in germ line gene therapy. In fact, gene therapy on reproductive cells is prohibited in some countries. However, the inability to pass down altered genes can be negative because the beneficial effects of somatic gene therapy stop at the patient, preventing the possibility of passing down health benefits to future generations.

Other pros of somatic gene therapy include safety in comparison with germ line gene therapy and the potentially life-changing health benefits in the patient. Possible cons of somatic gene therapy include temporary effects and complications during gene delivery. People who receive somatic gene therapy often need treatments for the rest of their lives because the body tissue cells, in which the genes were inserted, eventually are lost. Furthermore, the viruses that gene therapists use to insert genes into cells can sometimes cause an accidental immune system response. There is also the possibility that gene carriers alter the wrong genes.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.