Human genetic engineering

  • Created by: phobs
  • Created on: 04-05-15 20:36
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  • Human genetic engineering
    • Somatic-cell therapy
      • Somatic-cell therapy treats individuals by targeting non-reproductive,so any cure is only of the person treated and would not extend to any children he or she might have. In 2002, a toddler called Rhys Evans was treated for a genetic defect that causes lack of immunity to infection. In his case, a working copy of the gene that didn't work was inserted into his DNA. That treatment was successful and other children have since been treated for the same condition. In 2007, gene therapy was carried out on three young people with a particular form of childhood blindness. A year later, a significant improvement was noted in the case of one of them.
      • Somatic-cell therapy-a form of gene therapy that corrects a faulty gene
    • Saviour siblings
      • For a few years it has been possible to save the life of a child with a life-threatening  disorder through the use of pre-implanation genetic diagnosis (PGD). This involves screening embryos created in IVF treatment to select those that would be the closest match to the sick child. Suitable embryos are implanted in the mother. If there is successful pregnancy and birth, the cord blood is used as a source of stem cells that can be transplanted into the older child.
      • Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD)-screening embryos created in IVF treatment to select those that would be the closest match to a sick child
    • Designer babies
      • Saviour siblings are often described as designer babies because their genetic make-up is selected to be close as possible to that of the sick brother or sister. This is lawful, as is sex selection where there is a sex-linked genetic disorder. UK law does not permit sex selection for social reasons, however, nor does it support research into ways of enabling couples to choose their child's appearance, or his or her intellectual or sporting potential.
      • Designer babies-babies whose genetic structure had been structured to ensure particular characteristics
    • General arguments for and against genetic engineering
      • There are strong arguments for genetic engineering:
        • It is a compassionate response to disease
        • Parents should have the right to choose treatments for their children
        • Somatic-cell therapy is just an extension of everyday medical treatment
        • It may welll be more effective and less expensive than other treatments
        • It saves lives and the benefits outweigh any risks
        • In the case of designer babies,, it is natural for parents to want the best for a child. Why should parents not try to ensure they have super-intelligent, beautiful or sporty offspring?
        • So long as the saviour sibling is wanted for himself or herself, there is nothing wrong in seeking to save the life of a seriously ill child through PGD. Saving life is good, and the baby is not being harmed in any way.
      • There are also strong arguments against
        • They are unnatural. Medical scientists are 'playing God'
        • There is a fear of the slippery  slope. What starts as somatic-cell therapy might lead ultimately to eugenics, i.e. selective breeding to ensure that only children with particular characteristics are born
        • There are big risks. A French boy treated in a similar way to Rhys Evans developed leukaemia
        • If designer babies ever became possible, it might be that only the rich could afford them. This would be an injustice
        • Designer babies could become big business. Children would then be seen simply as a commodity, something bought to order
    • Christian views on human genetic engineering
      • Views are mixed. There are serious concerns about 'playing God' and medical scientists interfering irreversibly with something they do not fully understand. The creation of designer babies is seen as idolatrous worship of qualities such as beauty or intellect. There are concerns about the commercialisation of medical treatment and the two-tier society that might result.
      • Many Christians are concerned about the research stage in gene therapy and the possible suffering caused to animals. Yet others worry that gene therapy is just the start of what will become a slippery slope leading yo designer babies being created. Some Christians question the amount of money being spent on research into rare conditions when there are so many other more common diseases and conditions that need research money
      • Many Christians, however, think the benefits of somatic-cell therapy outweigh the risks and cons. How can a price be put on the life of a child? As with assisted conception, it is an extension of Jeses' healing ministry, a responsible use of God-given skills and an act of compassion
      • Roman Catholics in particular are opposed to this for several reasons: IVF is against natural law, spare embryos are created and wasted in the PGD procedure, and it exploits the resulting child, which is incapable of giving consent.


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