Genetic Screening Is Necessary Essay

1665 words - 7 pages

Genetic Screening is Necessary

You are sitting in the counselor's office, waiting. You are staring at the walls, trying not to think about what you are considering, but still thinking about it. Will I get cancer? Do I have the gene that will increase my likelihood of getting cancer ? My grandmother had cancer. Two of my aunts have had cancer. What about me? If I have this test, what happens then? The door opens and in walks the counselor. Time to find out about genetic screening.

Genetic screening with today's technology is a fairly simple. It's the public opinion and individual morals which make genetic screening complicated. I will address basic background information on genetic screening, the technical aspect of genetic scre ening, the public opinion surrounding genetic screening and my own personal opinion on genetic screening.

Background Information
Knowing two things will allow better understanding of what genetic screening is and how it is done. The first item covers basics about DNA and how it is inherited. The second deals with research done which allows genetic screening of a gene.
1. DNA is inherited from both parents, half from the father and half from the mother. Each half contains DNA segments which code for the same gene. Each part of the These two segments are called alleles. It is these alleles inherited from the parents that are used for analysis in genetic screening.

2. Genetic screening is a result of complex research. The gene must be located and sequenced. Changes in the DNA sequence caused by mutation, additions, or deletions, that result in disease development must also be found. It is these changes one is lo oking for in genetic screening.

Technical aspects of genetic screening

Individual genetic screening is fairly simple with current technology. The process involves DNA isolation, amplification, sequencing and analysis. One example of genetic screening currently used, is screening for the defective breast cancer (BRCA) alle les. In addition to the genetic screening process, an individual undergoes several counseling sessions. The step by step process of individual genetic screening starts with isolation of an individual's DNA. DNA may be isolated from tissue cells, blood cells, or urine of a child, adult or fetus. The segment of DNA which contains the gene of interest, is th en amplified through the use of PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) with primers specific to the segment of DNA. The amplified segment of DNA is then sequenced and analyzed for changes which cause the particular disease. If changes are present, the individu al has a greater likelihood of getting the disease.

In the case of BRAC screening an individual with a family history of breast cancer would be genetically screened for a copy of the defective allele. Their DNA would be isolated, amplified, sequenced, and analyzed. If a copy of one of these defective all eles is present, the individual would have a greater likelihood of...

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