The Ethics Of Gene Therapy

Decent Essays
Over 70,000 people worldwide have cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that causes a buildup in mucus, difficulty breathing, and damage to the lungs (Cystic Fibrosis, n.d.). Currently, there is no cure, but treatments such as gene therapy may help those who have the disease (Gene Therapy, n.d.). Gene therapy is a method of treating genetic diseases in which a vector such as a virus delivers the genes to target cells. This causes the expression of a person’s genes to change (Hanna, 2006). Somatic cells or germline cells can be treated (Gene Therapy, n.d.). Gene transfer to somatic cells changes the recipient’s genome (Hanna, 2006). Somatic gene therapy is likely to be a successful way to treat diseases caused by a single mutation (Gene Therapy,…show more content…
The first viewpoint is that somatic gene therapy, while risky, is ethical, and germline gene therapy is unethical. Somatic gene therapy can be used to treat cancer, AIDS, cystic fibrosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, or other diseases caused by a single mutation. Changes to a person’s genes in somatic gene therapy do not affect the next generation. They only affect the patient who gave consent for the treatment that could assuage their disease (Gene Therapy, n.d.). Somatic gene therapy can be risky, however, as the DNA could be inserted into the wrong place in the genome (Gene Therapy, n.d.). In rare occurrences, the DNA can incorrectly turn a regulatory gene on or off which can lead to cancer (Gene Therapy, n.d.). While there are rare complications, somatic gene therapy is an overall safe method of treating genetic diseases. In fact, gene therapy to treat sickle cell disease is undergoing clinical trials at Bluebird Bio, the University of California, Los Angeles, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (Hoban,…show more content…
Geneticists learn from them which allows them to make advancements in gene therapy to better the lives of those with genetic diseases. More than 70,000 people around the world are suffering from a genetic disease called cystic fibrosis (Cystic Fibrosis, n.d.). Many more are also suffering from other incurable diseases caused by a single mutation. Somatic gene therapy, while risky, could treat these diseases and ease the suffering of those who have them. Germline gene therapy, on the other hand, remains an ethical issue. Some say that it could eliminate genetic diseases altogether for future generations while others say that it could cause more deadly and catastrophic problems for future generations. Nevertheless, it is vital for geneticists to continue to test gene therapy. It is a wonderful way for them to gather information to safely and effectively improve and extend the lives of the thousands suffering from a genetic
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