What is the specific difference between gene delivery and gene therapy?

As far as I understand, gene delivery is the first step of gene therapy, but where does gene delivery end and gene therapy begin?

Does gene therapy necessarily imply that the host DNA is itself changed, or is it just that there is "extra" DNA floating around with the host DNA that also gets replicated?


2 Answers 2


Citing wikipedia:

Gene delivery is the process of introducing foreign DNA into host cells.

Gene therapy is the therapeutic delivery of nucleic acid polymers into a patient's cells as a drug to treat disease.

In other words, 'gene therapy' refers to the use of 'gene delivery' for therapeutic goals.

  • $\begingroup$ So you're saying that literally the only difference is the purpose? It seemed to me (indeed, from the Wikipedia article) that Gene Therapy goes far beyond just delivery into the cell and includes the processes involved in getting the DNA into the nucleus and accepted by the host cell. $\endgroup$ Dec 23, 2015 at 6:12
  • $\begingroup$ In my opinion the terms are interchangeable. The only difference I see is that "Gene Therapy" could be limited to therapeutic proteins, while "Gene Delivery" could be any gene, such as luciferase or GFP. Nuclear entry and transcription are still necessary by both, because even simple reporter genes won't do anything if they can't get into the nucleus or make mRNA. If you want to avoid nuclear uptake, look into mRNA delivery. Nuclear uptake is hard. $\endgroup$
    – user137
    Dec 23, 2015 at 11:00

Gene therapy is not just delivery of genetic material into the cell. There are processes such as homologous recombination and reverse mutation that are also a part of Gene therapy that helps in correcting the genetic makeup so as to cure disorders. Gene delivery is delivery of gene into the cell where as Gene therapy has an objective of correcting the genetic make up by inserting or correcting the defective gene. I hope that helps.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I dont understand. How and why could you deliver a gene to a cell not for the specific purposes of correcting a genetic makeup? $\endgroup$
    – Nederealm
    May 23, 2019 at 17:35

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