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The branch of medicine which incorporates the study and the management of respective diseases of the gallbladder, liver, pancreas and biliary tree is known as Hepatology. It came from the Greek word “hepar” or “hepato” meaning liver. It has gastroenterology as its sub-discipline. Doctors specializing in the field of Hepatology are known as hepatologists.
Diseases and the complications which are in relation to alcohol and viral hepatitis are the primary reason for looking for professional advice. A big fraction of the world’s population has been diagnosed with Hepatitis B in their lifetime. Even though many have healed and recovered from viral infections, an approximate of 350 million is still constant carriers. 80% of liver cancer cases are rooted to hepatitis B or hepatitis C. In terms of mortality, Hepatitis C falls in second to smoking as cause of liver cancer. With the onset spread of strict screening and vaccination prior to blood transfusion is expected to lower the infection rates in the future. In most of the countries, there are high records of alcohol intake and at the same time the number of people diagnosed with cirrhosis together with other disease related complications is greatly increasing.
Hepatology takes in Gene Therapy as a cure for liver diseases. Gene therapy is a tentative procedure which makes use of genes for the treatment and prevention of diseases. In the near future, this procedure may enable the doctors to conduct treatment to a disorder by means of gene insertion to the cells of the patients instead of oral drug medication or surgery. Researchers are now testing out various ways of delivering Gene Therapy. One way is to use a healthy copy of the gene to replace a mutated gene which causes the disease. Second way is to inactivate or to knock out the mutated gene which is improperly functioning and the third is to introduce a new gene to the body which will help to fight the disease.
Prior to actual treatment of a genetic disease can be performed to a patient, there should be a precise diagnosis of the genetic defect. From this point is where biotechnology will also have a great impact in the future. The research of genetic engineering has produced a very powerful mechanism for pointing out particular diseases accurately and rapidly. The probes or the short pieces of DNA can be intended to fuse purposely to particular DNA pieces. The approach depends on the underlying fact that complimentary DNA pieces will stick together. These pieces of DNA are very specific and are potentially sensitive compared to other diagnostics procedures and in the future, it should be possible enough to determine defective genes amongst the normal ones, this is indeed a very vital advancement in the field of medicine.
Even though Gene Therapy is known as a promising option treatment for various types of viral infections and cancers, the procedure still remains risky and is still under observation that will be effective and safe, currently; it is considered an option for treating diseases with no known cures.