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Gene Therapy Saves Lives Essay

1995 words - 8 pages

Gene Therapy Saves Lives

      Tim was diagnosed with a rare and deadly disease this morning. He is only five years old with the rest of his life ahead of him. It isn't his fault that he received this disease or even his parents'. This disease comes out in anyone's body that has a defected gene. The disease has made Tim live in a sanitized bubble the last year because of the fear that he might catch any common bug and die. He has severe combined immunodeficiency, or SCID. The disease lacks a gene in charge of the body's immune system called adenosine deaminase. Tim could be helped through a process called gene therapy, but he won't because there is too much debate on the ethnicity of gene therapy; too much even to save his life.

      The use of gene therapy to prevent illness and disease by changing a person's genetic makeup is a good use of science. Gene therapy is an approach in science to treat, or ultimately prevent disease by changing the expression of a person's genes. The way a gene is expressed is something like a person's hair color. Gene therapy is still in its very early stages of development. Any gene therapy that is being worked on today is still in its experimental stages. It will not be used in humans for extensive use for a while. The only humans are ones who are in clinical trials ("Gene Therapy").

      Gene therapy can be done by using either somatic, which are from the body, or germ, which are from egg or sperm, cells. In somatic gene therapy the recipient's genome, genetic makeup, is changed, but the changes are not passed down to the next generation. In germ line gene therapy, the parents' egg and sperm cells are changed with the goal of passing on the changes to their offspring. Germ line gene therapy is not being is widely investigated at this time even though it is a hot topic of debate because of value and desirability ("Gene Therapy").

      There are many people that make the mistake that scientists are using germ line gene therapy regularly. As the anonymous author of the article "Gene Therapy" says, "News reports of parents selecting a genetically tested egg for implantation or choosing the sex of their unborn child may lead the public to think that gene therapy is occurring. Actually [. . .] genetic information is being used for selection. No cells are altered or changed." This proves that no one is actually changing a child's genetic information, so there is nothing wrong with scientists using germ line engineering.

      There are also researchers who believe that some of the roots of cancer, high blood pressure, and perhaps even alcoholism are found in genes. The more research that has been done the more they find links between genes and diseases. However, the truth isn't as simple as "if you get that gene for a disease, you will get the disease." Genes may play a role in many disorders, but so do the conditions and other circumstances in ones life and the decisions he/she makes about the...

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