Informative Essay: Gene Therapy

1528 Words 7 Pages
Gene therapy has become an exciting and controversial issue on the scientific and medical horizon. Science offers new technologies that, in the future, will be able to treat and cure common genetically passed diseases. However, as it is an extremely broad subject, some time must be dedicated to its interpretation and explanation. First, a general definition of gene therapy is required. Genethics, the Clash between the New Genetics and Human Values, by David T. Suzuki and Peter Knudtson, defines gene therapy as "the medical replacement or repair of defective or faulty genes in living human cells." It is not really so elementary as the definition would imply. Within gene therapy there lie certain aspects, some more controversial than …show more content…
have a right to assume

risks in the hope of improved health ... And, as

long as gene therapists confine their genetic mani-

pulation to somatic cells ... the argument is hard

to refute.

That gene therapy is performed only on somatic cells is very important, as implied in the definition of germ-line therapy. While not trying to make light of any error that may occur during somatic gene therapy, it should be understood that any errors occuring during germ-line therapy pose far more serious a problem than during somatic gene therapy. As mentioned above, somatic cells are bound by limits of a human life and germ-line are not. Any mistake made on a germ-line cell would have indeterminate repercussions on generations in the future.

Genetic manipulation ... has the potential to multi-

ply medical errors exponentially -- sending ripples

that radiate far beyond the finite lifetimes of gene

therapist or consenting patient.

To tamper with the future in that manner is extremely dangerous and unethical by many standards. Nevertheless, germ-line therapy has supporters. At the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) International Bioethics Committee's (IBC) meeting in Paris last year, they argued in favor of germ-line therapy in most situations stating, "If it is morally acceptable to cure a condition by somatic gene therapy, then why not to eliminate it by the

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