Techniques and Outcomes of Germ-line Gene Therapy Essay

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The Relative Positives and Negatives Behind the Techniques and Outcomes of Germ-line Gene Therapy

Ever since the idea of altering the human genome was created through the research of germ-line gene therapy, advocates and protestors entered into contention with one another. Supporters of the new technology argue about the benefits of germ-line therapy. Humans have the right to scientific inquiry, especially if it is beneficial to mankind. However, their counterparts claim that the difficulty and unknown side effects (coupled with a few unsuccessful and fatal trials) will cause damage greater than any potential good. Furthermore, some even argue with the ethical issues resultant of a possible eugenics movement. Despite level of
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However, at the same time, a panel of scientists including such distinguishable figureheads as James Watson (the discover of the human DNA double-helix molecule) and Leroy Hood (chair of molecular biotechnology at the University of Washington) urged the power and potential of germ-line gene therapy (Wadman, 1998). This powerful debate has taken the medical research world by storm with many advocating the positive impact this technology could have on the world while others discourage its study, wary of unknown health risks or negative ethical issues.
Germ-line gene therapy, which essentially uses the same techniques as somatic therapy, affects an isolated embryo with a vector containing healthy, non-affected gene. This replaces the diseased, un-working gene (Willgoos, 2001). At either a four or eight-cell embryo, germ-line gene therapy would be most practical for the correction or prevention of genetic deficiencies, since it affects the reproductive cells (Wivel and Walters, 533). This type of cure for diseases such as cystic fibrosis or sickle-celled anemia changes the DNA at an early stage of development, so all of the cells of the growing embryo contain the healthy gene (Willgoos, 2001). The techniques behind genetic germ-line modification allow for it to become an alternate to monogenic deficiencies such as Lesch-Nyhan syndrome, Tay-Sachs disease, and metachromatic leukodystrophy in place

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