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Genetic Engineering: The History Of Gene Therapy

892 words - 4 pages

The History of Gene Therapy

In today’s society, the demand for perfection is strong. Imagine the possibility that you could choose the traits your child would possess. As technology increases, eventually humans could be able to create the ‘perfect’ child, with a ‘perfect’ behavior by replacing one gene with another. Vision the possibility that diseased or mutated genes could be replaced, ridding the world of hereditary diseases. In order to do this, technology must be increased in the area of gene therapy. Gene therapy has come a long way in its short existence.

Genetic enhancement of humans may someday be possible, following the successful completion of the Human Genome Project. According to an article in New Statesman (v. 127) by Caroline Daniel, the Human Genome Project is an ‘international scientific collaboration’. The project was started in 1990. More than two billion Pounds, was funded by the European public. The United States is the main country in favor of this research. Organizations such as the National Institute of health and the US Department of Energy are among those in favor.

Though this research might sound promising and exciting, much more needs to be learned about genes and the composition of DNA. DNA is a double helix with nearly three billion chemical letters of genetic text, located in more than one hundred thousand different genes. The difficult part is not identifying each individual gene, but rather to figure out how each gene works, their reactions to disease and response to the environment. The Human Genome Project’s goal is to sequence every human gene before the year 2005, and surprisingly it is right on schedule. In late 1997 50,000 genes had been mapped. Originally, the thinking behind the project was that genetic disorders could be cured. Four thousand genetic conditions have been found to be linked to a single gene. By replacing that mutant gene, genetic disorders would cease to exist. As of early 1998, around 250 gene therapy trials were being conducted around the world.

Overall, one would think it’d be safe to say that that task doesn’t seem too hard at all, the only thing you need to do is replace the gene. That seems simple enough. In actuality, however, getting these new genes into the right places isn’t easy. Two ways have been found to replace genes. The first is done by inserting the new gene into a virus that attacks the gene that needs to be replaced. The downfall to this technique is that the immune system could have a bad reaction to the introduced virus. The...

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