Should Gene Therapy Be Allowed?

1451 Words6 Pages
What is gene therapy? Carried on chromosomes in the nuclei of all somatic cells, genes are the basic physical and functional units of heredity. Passed from parent to child, they contain instructions for making proteins. If genes are altered, they may not produce the right proteins or produce them correctly, and a child can develop a genetic disorder such as cystic fibrosis or haemophilia. Gene therapy is an experimental technique for correcting defective genes responsible for disease development. There are potentially two methods for gene therapy; somatic and germ line gene therapy. Currently, somatic gene therapy is most widely being tested, as germ line gene therapy is not as well understood as the somatic pathway. The standard procedure for performing somatic gene therapy involves inserting the therapeutic gene into the genome to replace the abnormal/disease-causing gene. But giving someone a healthy gene to replace a faulty one isn’t so simple. Getting the gene into the body involves altering a vector (usually a common virus such as an adenovirus or a retrovirus) and swapping the disease causing genes with the therapeutic one. Once the virus binds to the cell, it then injects the DNA it contains into the target cell and then takes up that DNA, makes it its own, and then produces whatever it is that the cell has been “told” to make. Currently, gene therapy is concentrating on single gene disorders such as cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease, muscular dystrophy and sickle cell anaemia. Gene therapy has the potential to correct the underlying cause of a disease, unlike most conventional medicines that treat the symptoms of a disease. In the future, new technologies may offer people more control over their bodies; not just genetically perfect health, but cosmetic benefits too. The issue at hand is whether it is moral/ethical to alter our body’s set of basic
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