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What is Protein Therapy?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2016
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Protein therapy is a medical treatment showing much promise that is still in mostly investigatory stages. The idea is similar to gene therapy, but unlike gene therapy, protein therapy delivers protein the body in specific amounts, as would be ordinarily present, to help repair illnesses, treat pain or remake structures. It is important to view much of what is known about protein therapy today as still highly investigational, but scientists do regard it with hope, since some early studies have suggested it may be of benefit in may instances.

Proteins are not that difficult to make. They might be created in a variety of ways, via labs, growth in animals or culturing in different types of cells. Since many illnesses show insufficient protein levels in one or more body systems, simply adding whole and strong proteins back is not much of a logical leap. There are some issues with this, though, including the fact that delivery of the protein has to be carefully assessed.

On this last front, it’s not always possible to deliver a protein unless it goes directly to the source it needs to aid. Sending it through the blood or the digestive tract could degrade it, and it might never reach its intended target. The matter of delivery remains complicated, and in many tests attempt is made for direct delivery to the intended area, such as the heart or brain.

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When on site, the hope is that the protein, which is not present in sufficient levels, will act exactly as it is designed to do. For instance, some studies have evaluated use of certain proteins in addressing cardiovascular disease. Especially when veins or arteries become blocked, the right types of proteins might address this issue by going to work on building new passages for bloodflow. Some doctors feel that protein therapy of this type might eventually be so successful that it could eliminate the need for complicated surgeries like bypass surgery.

There have been some human trials with protein therapy, but many trials are still conducted on animals. Early trials in humans have shown promise in some areas. Physicians and other medical researchers look to these studies with considerable hope, though it still could be years before any one protein therapy treatment was approved for use by regulating agencies, or became widely used.

Some of the potential benefits of this therapy include curing chronic pain conditions, arresting illnesses that causes degradation of tissues, restoring or rebuilding tissue, and intervening early at fetal stages to prevent expression of certain birth defects. These same issues may be addressed with gene therapy too, though many scientists contend protein therapy is presently more advanced and easier to use. Both therapies have a likely role in the future of medicine.

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anon259092
Post 2

How can we intervene early at fetal stages to prevent the expression of certain birth defects?

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