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Implications Of And Attitudes Toward Gene Therapy

2223 words - 9 pages

Viewpoints:

As gene therapy is very controversial, there are contrasting perspectives on the issue. Proponents of gene therapy are attracted to the idea of providing a cure for a disease, instead of drug therapy and only easing the symptoms. Many can see the potential of gene therapy to become a huge part of medicine in the future of patient treatment. Dr Frederick Hecht says “most gene therapy for diseases such as cystic fibrosis and hemophilia has been designed only to ease, not to cure, the disease. However, the delivery of functional copies of genes provides a potential method to correct a disease at its most basic level”. This article is an example of a small breakthrough in gene ...view middle of the document...

Gene therapy’s aim to treat diseases is often interpreted as such or to modify for ‘better’ humans. “The Church of England accepts somatic cell gene therapy, saying there are 'few ethical concerns' with it. They are less enthusiastic about germ line gene therapy, which is illegal at present in the UK.” This is because they see the “procedures used on somatic cells for strictly therapeutic purposes are in principle morally licit”. It seems that it is the germline gene therapy where most of the concerns come from. This is because it allows inheritance of the altered genes and its unforeseen consequences on the future descendants are unknown and unpredictable.

In my opinion, gene therapy is crucial in medicine for patient treatment in the future. I consider the risks in it to be a necessary evil. Risks, such as death, are unpredictable and it is during these times mistakes can be learnt. For example, Gelsinger’s death marked the need for a change in patient information. I’ve taken into consideration the implications of gene therapy and most can be prevented or controlled. The cost of gene therapy may be expensive now but after its completion and accessibility to the public, it could become cheap. The fear of death and further symptoms are understandable but with the thought of providing data and observations to the researchers, you think of the importance of these information on the current study and future research.

In reading the various arguments for and against gene therapy, I thought that both arguments hold some merit. I believe, like Dr Hecht, the huge potential of gene therapy. However, it should be taken into consideration how many people should die before deaths can be prevented. I believe in the sacrifice of deaths, but I do not condone complete disregard for a life. I think that the biological implications of gene therapy can be reduced over time until a time comes for them to be fully prevented. For example, the risk of adverse reactions to vectors are fatal, just like Gelsinger’s, yet these reactions cannot be predicted and only when a response occurred that it could be known. The cost of gene therapy is expensive and I believe it is only right when it is only an experimental technique with multiple strict regulations and possibly limited resources.

Conclusion:

Gene therapy, in concept, is the transmission of a gene into the human body to correct a biological malfunction that leads to a disease. The technical difficulties and safety issues involving the best systems to deliver genetic materials to cells still remain. These are the main obstacles in making gene therapy a legal and effective treatment. It is a controversial issue that has polarised opinions on it.

I believe that gene therapy is the future of incurable diseases. Although the techniques are far too risky, it could still be considered as a successful prospect in the future. There could still be improvement on the present procedures by further research and...

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