Position Paper: Gene Therapy In Humans

1726 words - 7 pages

Position Paper: Gene Therapy in Humans

Advancements in science and medicine are usually accompanied with a myriad of ethical and moral implications. The fairly recent advancement in genetics called gene therapy is no exception to the baggage of polarizing views that come with new technology. Gene therapy is an extremely hot topic in both the science world and everyday life. New technology, discoveries, and breakthroughs are rapidly occurring in the field every day. The topic of gene therapy in humans is one that is highly debated due to the ethical implications connected to the science. Both sides of the debate have various reasons for their position, but the main factors come down to the ethics of changing someone’s genome and the consequences that accompany the altercations. The two types of gene therapy, somatic and germ-line are seen in different lights. There is more debate over germ-line therapy because the alterations have more consequences than somatic gene therapy. There are many moral and ethical decisions that need to be considered before gene therapy can be widely accepted. Do we have the right to change a person’s genetics, especially before they are born? Do we know enough to confidently insert or delete genes without detrimental consequences down the road? If we have the ability to help people who have disabilities or diseases, is it ethical to withhold and not treat the patient? I believe human gene therapy is a good and useful tool for medicine and needs to be developed because it posses the ability to help and cure people from ailments that degrade their quality of life.
One of the biggest concerns involved in gene therapy in humans is the lack of knowledge and the possibility for consequences later on or in generations to follow. Because gene therapy is still in a juvenile state, it is hard to say with confidence that there is no chance for problems. We are still learning how genes work and interact with each other. New research is revealing that interaction between genes is much more common than originally thought. There is about 98% of the human genome that does not code for proteins. Even within the 2% of genes that codes for proteins, there is still about 40% of it that has an unknown function. This lack of knowledge creates a danger in the unpredictability of the outcomes when altering a person’s genome. French Anderson states in his paper Human Gene Therapy, “Medicine is an inexact science; we still understand very little about how the human body works. Well-intentioned efforts at treatment with standard therapeutics can produce unexpected problems months or years later. Altering the genetic information in a patient's cells may result in long-term side effects that are unpredictable at present”(p 812). With this uncertainty, it is risky to change DNA in humans. Complications that are unforeseeable can arise and this causes an ethical dilemma. Potentially trying to cure a disorder with gene therapy could lead to more...

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