Difference Between Gene Therapy and Immunotherapy l Gene Therapy vs Immunotherapy


The key difference between gene therapy and immunotherapy is that the gene therapy involves an alteration of the genetic component of an organism as a treatment strategy while the immunotherapy involves the treating of the immune system by administering immune cells as a treatment.

There are many different approaches to treatment practised in the world. At present, treatment procedures more focused on personalized medicine. In this contest, researchers and medical practitioners favour more specific and reliable treatment methods. Therefore, it is essential to incorporate novel techniques towards the designing of treatment procedures. Gene therapy and immunotherapy are two such specific techniques used in disease treatment.

CONTENTS

1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Gene Therapy
3. What is Immunotherapy
4. Similarities Between Gene Therapy and Immunotherapy
5. Side by Side Comparison – Gene Therapy vs Immunotherapy in Tabular Form
6. Summary

What is Gene Therapy?

Gene therapy is a form of therapy that alters the genetic component of a person as a method of treatment. Hence, in gene therapy, the gene that is responsible for the disease or the disorder is altered or inactivated in order to get rid of that particular disease. Though, this is a very specific treatment method, there are a lot of ethical considerations behind the treatment process. Not only that, there are side effects of this method that vary widely. Furthermore, the prediction of the side effects of gene therapy is also a difficult process.

There are three main ways to carry out gene therapy. Firstly, the mutated gene or the diseases gene can be replaced by a healthy copy of the same gene. In this case, the mutations should be analyzed first, and early detection of the gene mutation is very important. Secondly, the mutated or the diseased gene can be inactivated by silencing the gene. Thirdly, gene therapy can be used to introduce a new gene to the patient. Now, this new gene will be responsible for producing a new therapeutic protein, which will cure the disease.

Difference Between Gene Therapy and Immunotherapy l Gene Therapy vs Immunotherapy

Figure 01: Gene Therapy

Often, a compatible vector involves with the most gene therapy procedures to carry the gene of interest to the host organism. Usually, intravenous methods are used to administer the vector to the individual cells. If the gene therapy is successful, the gene product will be produced in the desired cell type. Hence, the success of gene therapy depends on the expression of the gene product.

What is Immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy is a form of therapeutic approach that treats the immune system of the patient. It is a new method of treatment and has wide use in cancer therapy. Immunotherapy involves with the administering immune cells such as T cells and monoclonal antibodies to the patient. Therefore, administering these immune cells can induce the immunity of a person. Therefore, the patients overcome from the compromised immune situation to the normal state.

Method of Treatment

Immunotherapy is a specific method of treatment and its accuracy in treatment is very high. Therefore. the main disadvantage of using immunotherapy is the increased risk of autoimmune diseases. Due to this reason, the health professionals should analyse the dosage, pathway of administering, and the side effects of the immunotherapeutic agent well before administering the agent to the patient.

Therefore, immunotherapy successfully restores a person’s immunity by boosting the immunity of the host which will enable the host to fight against the disease condition. In the case of cancer, most cancer patients are immune compromised. However, by treating with immunotherapeutic agents, it is easy to regain the immunity levels of the cancer patients.  Once the immunity level goes up, eventually cancer cells start to die by controlling cancer.

Difference Between Gene Therapy and Immunotherapy l Gene Therapy vs Immunotherapy

Figure 02: Immunotherapy

In addition to administering immune cells, there are other ways of doing immunotherapy, such as the administration of antibodies. In particular, the administering antibodies via intravenous vaccinations is a common immunotherapeutic method. The antibodies will then act against their specific antigens and destroy the pathogen. Use of modified T cells is the second way. Consequently, we can modify T cells by adding specific receptors on to its surface to identify various specific foreign molecules or chemicals. These modified T cells when administered, will target the specific foreign body and destroy it.

What are the Similarities Between Gene Therapy and Immunotherapy?

  • Gene therapy and immunotherapy are specific and reliable treatment procedures.
  • Both are treatments in cancer treatment.
  • Also, alministration of both therapies are intravenous.
  • Furthermore, these methods require high-end research and analysis before administration.
  • Both types involve novel technologies.

What is the Difference Between Gene Therapy and Immunotherapy?

There are advance and novel techniques used in the world to treat diseases. Among them, gene therapy and immunotherapy are two different procedures. The key difference between gene therapy and immunotherapy is that the gene therapy involves the alteration of the genetic material of the patient while the immunotherapy involves the administration of immune cells, antibodies, etc. to induce the immune system of the patient.

Moreover, side effects due to each therapy is an important difference between gene therapy and immunotherapy. The below infographic provides further information on the difference between gene therapy and immunotherapy.

Difference Between Gene Therapy and Immunotherapy l Gene Therapy vs Immunotherapy

Summary – Gene Therapy vs Immunotherapy

Gene therapy and immunotherapy are the two main techniques useful in cancer therapy. Gene therapy is the method that alters the genetic composition of the patient as a treatment method. In contrast, immunotherapy is the technique that treats the immune cells. As a result, it enhances the activity of the immune system. Both the techniques are highly specific. Even though the techniques are reliable, the usage of these is minimal in the world. This is due to the highly variable side effects of the treatment procedures. Hence, this is the difference between gene therapy and immunotherapy.

Reference:

1.Rangel-Sosa, Martha Montserrat, et al. “Immunotherapy and Gene Therapy as Novel Treatments for Cancer.” Colombia Médica : CM, Universidad Del Valle, 30 Sept. 2017. Available here 
2.“Understanding Immunotherapy.” Cancer.Net, 1 June 2018. Available here 
3.“What Is Gene Therapy? – Genetics Home Reference – NIH.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. Available here  

Image Courtesy:

1.”39151355192″ by The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (U.S. Government Works) via Flickr
2.”11 Hegasy CTLA4 PD1 Immunotherapy”By Guido4 – Own work, (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia  

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