Pros and Cons of Genetic Engineering in Humans

bewilderedvoyageBiotechnology

Dec 12, 2012 (4 years and 7 months ago)

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Response Group


Are you in favor opposed to genetic research and manipulation in humans?




A.

Back ground information
-

Genetic manipulation has been happing for years
.
Simply said, it’s a way of manipulating our genes in such a way to make our
bodies and lives better.
There are two ways
of treating genes
. GERM LINE
therapy is

egg

and

sperm treatment
, this will alter traits in a child
, it is illegal
at this
p
oint
.

J
u
st recently a girl was born in the United
Kingdom

with the
c
a
ncer gene that ran in her family removed. The second type
of gene therapy
is called SOMATIC cell gene therapy, this is legal.

Somatic therapy is when a
healthy gene is fired into our systems to

do the job a malfunctioning gene is
not doing.


Unfortunately, along with the good comes the bad. Genetic mutations and
deaths have occurred

is scientific studies
. Do the pros
outweigh

the cons or
the other way around?




B.

Students will be able to disc
uss

reasons

for

the pros and cons of genetic
manipulation.

Students will be able to analyze and support and write a
hypothesis as to what will happen if we do or don’t encourage genetic
manipulation.



C.

Source for information was a two part article on
the pros and cons of genetic
engineering in human.


D.

5 Question
s

a.

Why you in favor of
genetic engineering on humans either in the
gamete phase of birth, Germline therapy or Somatic therapy? If you
are not why not?

b.

How do you think we coul
d be better of
f

with or without
gene
therapy
?



c.

Describe the

ethical

and scientific

difference between manipulating
gametes before the egg is fertilized, or organisms after they have
fertilized each other.


d.

The scenario is,
your child is found to have Downs Syndrome,
and this

is caused by part or all of an extra 21
st

chromosome, would you have
gene thera
py done to remove your child’s
chromosome. So they can
live a normal life.

Describe the conflicts one might have. Discuss if
parents should be able to step in the way of helping a child
’s medical
condition if the resources are there, other than religious beliefs.


e.

If in favor of gene manipulation and had severe rheumatoid arth
ritis
for many years, what would be the success rate threshold for you to
s
eek this type of therapy? Why would
you volunteer for genetic
therapy? A 3
6 year old woman,
after getting gene treatment for
arthritis, died three days later. They think the gene

injected may have
overseeded or spread a virus through her body.


E.

Student assignment


a.

Write a couple paragraphs
to tell me your position of genetic
engineering?

b.

If you’re not in favor of genetic engineering. What do you think

we
should do with the infor
mation we have.

c.

Find someone who is for it and against and have a discussion with
both. Did they sway your thinking at all, did you sway their opinion?







PROS AND CONS OF GEN
ETIC
ENGINEERING IN HUMAN
S
-

PART 1


Article by

Paul Arnold

(46,319 pts
)

Edited & published by
Paul Arnold

(46,319 pts
) on Nov 9, 2009

Related
Guides:

Gene Therapy
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The human body is not perfect. Some are created with inherent faults and others break
down before their time. Science has the potential to make good these problems by
altering how humans are made. This is genetic engineering, and this article looks at th
e
pros and cons of the technology in humans

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Definition of Genetic Engineering

This is part one of a two
-
part series. Here I will look at a defintion of
genetic engineering

and the pros of human genetic engineering. In
part two

the c
ons and the ethics of human
genetic engineering are discussed.

Before weighing up the pros and cons of genetic engineering in humans, it's worth taking
the time to understand just what is meant by the idea. Simply put, it's a way of
manipulating our genes
in such a way as to make our bodies better. This alteration of a
genome could take place in the sperm and egg cells. This is known as germline gene
therapy and would alter the traits that a child is born with. The changes would be
inheritable and passed do
wn through the generations. It is currently illegal in many
countries.

The other way to change our genome is to swap our bad genes for good ones
-

in cells
other than the sex cells. This is known as somatic cell gene therapy. This is where a
functioning ge
ne could be fired into our bodies on a viral vector to carry out the functions
that a faulty gene is unable to. This technology is permitted, though it has enjoyed a very
limited success rate so far (largely because it is technically very difficult). Nonet
heless, it
still holds out a great deal of promise.

Pros of Genetic Engineering in Humans

There are many potential advantages to being able to alter the cells in our bodies
genetically.

To make disease a thing of the past

Most people on the planet die of
disease or have family members
that do. Very few of us will just pop up to bed one night and gently close our eyes for the
last time. Our genomes are not as robust as we would like them to be and genetic
mutations either directly cause a disease such as Cy
stic fibrosis, or they contribute to it
greatly i.e. Alzheimer's. Or in the case of some conditions such as the heart disease
Cardiomyopathy,
genetic mutations

can mak
e our bodies more susceptible to attack from
viruses or our own immune system. If the full benefits of gene therapy are ever realised
we can replace the dud genes with correctly functioning copies.

To extend life spans

Having enjoyed life, most of us want to cling on to it for as long as possible. The genetic
engineering of humans has the potential to greatly increase our life spans. Some estimates
reckon that 100
-
150 years could be the norm. Of course
gene therapy

for a fatal condition
will increase the lifespan of the patient but we're also talking about genetic modifications
of healthy people to give them a longer life. Once we full
y understand the genetics of
ageing it may be possible to slow down or reverse some of the cellular mechanisms that
lead to our decline
-

for example by preventing telomeres at the ends of chromosomes
from shortening. Telomere shortening is known to contri
bute to cell senescence.

Better pharmaceuticals

The knowledge gained by working out genetic solutions for the above could help with the
design of better pharmaceutical products that are able to target specifically genetic
mutations in each individual.

Part

2

As deliriously exciting as some people believe genetic engineerng to be
-

there are
several downsides and ethical dilemmas which will be discussed in
part two
.

Huma
n genetic engineering has the power to shape the future of the human race. This is
the second part of an article looking at the pros and cons of the genetic modification of
humans.

The Cons of Human Genetic Engineering

Part one

of this article looked at the pros of genetic engineering in humans. Now, we look
at the cons. As with any new technology, there are some downsides.

There's a big question mark over safety

There
are risks associated with getting genes into a human body and having them carry
out the desired function. Some genes are carried in on viral vectors and these bugs have
been altered so as not to infect a patient with a disease. However, a small number of g
ene
therapy trials have resulted in the deaths of some subjects.

Also, we simply do not know long term the potential ramifications of altering genes. For
example, if you were to stop telomeres from shortening would this have negative knock
-
on effects elsew
here in the genome? The human genome and our whole bodies are a
maze of complicated biological signals, pathways and interrelationships. A positive
change upstream could cause a negative effect downstream.





Genetic diversity

If we were all to undergo genetic modification would this limit our
genetic diversity
?
Could there be a danger that our gene pool diminishes and that as a population w
e
become more susceptible to being wiped out by a hitherto unknown disease threat?

A Slippery Slope? Ethics of Human Genetic Engineering

To say that genetic engineering has attracted some controversy would be an
understatement. There are many cries that sc
ientists are 'playing God' and that it will lead
to a two
-
tier society
-

the genetically haves and the have
-
nots. But is this any different to
the cries of horror and fears of Frankenstein's monster that greeted Louise Brown, the
first child to be born by
IVF treatment? There was great uproar in the late 1970's but IVF
is now a common, if expensive, fertility treatment. And there aren't any monsters stalking
the Earth.

Having said that, genetic engineering does hold the potential that parents could (if the
technology worked) assemble their kids genetically, to be smarter, to be more athletic or
have a particular hair or
eye colour
. Though it's rather fanciful to suggest that intelligence
could be improved by the substitution of a gene, it may be found that there are several
genes that are more commonly expressed in the genomes of inte
lligent people than those
with more limited intellectual capacity. And parents might want to engineer an embryo to
house a greater number of these genes. It is this genetic engineering of humans that so
frightens people, that we could somehow design the hu
man race. Though some people
point out other potential benefits. What if it turned out that there were sets of genes that
were commonly expressed in criminals
-

could we tackle crime by weeding out those
genes?

The technology is nowhere near there yet, but

a tiny number of parents undergoing IVF
have selected their
embryos to be free from genetic mutations

that have blighted
generations of their family. In the UK in Jan
uary 2009 a mother gave birth to a girl whose
embryo had been selected to be free from a genetic form of breast cancer. Some see this
as a slippery slope towards a eugenic future, others view it as a valuable use of genetic
engineering to prevent disease f
rom striking someone down.

Society will decide how it uses this technology, and it is for governments to weigh up the
pros and cons of genetic engineering in humans to see what may be carried out and what
should be illegal. They will be prompted by public
understanding, desire and concern. It
therefore behoves all of us to understand what scientists are trying to accomplish and
what they are not trying to do. We must all become better informed, to equip ourselves
with more information and to know the differ
ence between science fiction and science
fact.



Reference Page


Johnson, C (2007)
USA TODAY
. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/genetics/2007
-
09
-
15
-
genetherapy_N.htm


Arnold, P (2009)
Bright Hub
. Retrieved from http://www.brighthub.com/science/genetics/articles/22211.aspx


Arnold, P (2009)
Bright Hub
. Retrieved from http://www.brighthub.com/science/genetics/articles/22210.aspx



Grading rubrics


Interacts in a positive manner



Maintains eye cont
act



Speaks loudly



Sticks to the subject of conversation


Promotes own ideas completely, clearly and logically



States ideas in clear logical manner



States ideas at appropriate manner.


Listens well and considers what others say



Listen without interrupting



Makes eye contact with speaker



Show understanding


Acts in a mature way to others’ ideas



Considers other’s ideas



Shows appreciation for others’ ideas


Interacts well with groups



Team thought process



Discusses issues with partners



Promotes group discussion