Genetic engineering: a great moral dilemma of our time

Essay by steven_beardHigh School, 12th gradeA+, March 2006

download word file, 2 pages 3.0

Genetic engineering is one of the great moral dilemmas of our time. More particularly Genetic engineering, but as the scientists like to call it "Genetic Therapy". Genetic therapy can be used to repair genes, treat cancer, germ-line therapy, therapeutic cloning and sport enhancements.

GE in the form of 'gene therapy' could be used to repair damaged or replace missing genes in people who have genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis, severe combined immunodeficiency etc.

Gene therapy is being used, as yet experimentally, to treat cancer. Most of the gene therapy clinical protocols are centred on this major class of diseases in the population. The advantage is that the treatment targets only the cancerous cells thus avoiding the 'collateral damage' that is done to other tissues by current radiation or chemical therapies.

Recombinant DNA technology can be applied to speed up working out the sequences of all the genes in the human genome.

Once these sequences are known together with the mutations which cause or predispose to disease cures can be sought by designing appropriate molecules for use as pharmaceuticals.

Genes and artificial chromosomes can also be inserted into embryos in a process known as germ-line gene therapy. This could be used to cure genetic disorders, including behavioural disorders such as schizophrenia, or to insert genes which enhance intelligence or athletic performance. The benefits of these genetic changes would be passed on to later generations.

'Therapeutic cloning': If the law gives the go ahead, cloning could almost immediately be used in conjunction with GM to create artificial human cell lines from embryonic tissue (stem cells) that could be used for transplantation (e.g. in Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease), for the production of pharmaceutical proteins etc and for medical research.

Experiments in animals show that future therapeutic cloning of human tissues for...