The Debate Over Gene Therapy Essay

850 words - 3 pages

In September 14, 1990, an operation, which is called gene therapy, was performed successfully at the National Institutes of Health in the United States. The operation was only a temporary success because many problems have emerged since then. Gene therapy is a remedy that introduces genes to target cells and replaces defective genes in order to cure the diseases which cannot be cured by traditional medicines. Although gene therapy gives someone who is born with a genetic disease or who suffers cancer a permanent chance of being cured, it is high-risk and sometimes unethical because the failure rate is extremely high and issues like how “good” and “bad” uses of gene therapy can be distinguished still haven’t been answered satisfactorily.
Gene therapy gives people who suffer from genetic diseases a chance to lead a normal life. Dangerous diseases, such as AIDS, SCID, Thalassemia and ADA can be cured successfully. In September 5, 2006, two people with advanced melanoma received Gene therapy and they got recovery soon. This is a breakthrough in cancer gene therapy. Gene therapy uses patients own cells to cure diseases, and, therefore, no rejection to their bodies. Furthermore, patients could get permanent cure from gene therapy without recurrence.
Despite being magical of gene therapy, it is high-risk. Few people got benefits from it, and it has a low rate of success. Prior to the human trial, Batshaw and Wilson had done experiment on animals to ensure the safety. Over 20 experiments have been done on mice but only 12 of them survived at last (Sophia, M. and Kolehmainen, J.D., 2000). More seriously, complicating diseases, which can be more dangerous than genetic diseases, might set in during the treatment period. In December 2007, a three-year-old boy with SCID developed leukemia after two years of experimental gene therapy in London Hospital, UK. The techniques still have some drawbacks because gene therapy is a rather developing remedy. Four out of ten patients with SCID in France were found that there was a defect on chromosome which leaded to the development of leukemia. Through the study, it is found that the curative gene which was inserted into patients’ blood stem cells turned on a cancer gene. (Bersenev,A., 2008).

The most controversial problem of gene therapy is the ethics. The first person who was died from gene therapy clinical trials was an 18-year-old volunteer with OTC named Jesse Gelsinger. After the death of Jesse Gelsinger, the ethical problems of the trial procedure have emerged. Firstly, considerable commercial interest in gene therapy creates conflicts...

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