Although genetic testing can benefit society in numerous ways, such as the diagnosis of vulnerabilities to inherited diseases and ancestry verification, it also has the precarious capability to become a tool in selecting a more favorable genetic makeup of an individuals and ultimately cloning humans. Genetic testing will depreciate our quality of life and may result in discrimination, invasion of privacy, and harmful gene therapy. In 1993 a pamphlet by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute was released heralding Gene Therapy.
Although gene testing had been around and used for various procedures and breakthroughs, gene therapy had the potential to change the face of research, as we knew it. Medical scientists had finally found a way to manipulate human genes and possibly change faulty genes in an attempt to replace them in order to treat and cure diseases. Thus the first patients were treated at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland.
Two years after receiving their last infusions of generally altered cells to boost their weakened immune systems; the first patients ever to undergo gene therapy are still healthy and benefiting from the treatment. According to a historic research paper published in Science on October 19, 1995, the two girls still have white blood cells bearing copies of the replacement ADA gene. Patient One, whose health improved significantly following gene therapy, has maintained a normal white blood cell count as well as measurable levels of the ADA enzyme, which was almost nonexistent prior to the treatment.
The process was less efficient in Patient Two. Only about one percent of her T cells incorporated the virus into their DNA. In another case, an 18-year-old Arizona man with a rare metabolic disease participated in a controversial experiment which marked the first death attributed to gene therapy. Jesse Gelsinger, a high school graduate who episodically suffered from a serious genetic disorder that often leads to coma and death in childhood, died Sept. 17, 1999 after undergoing an experimental therapy administered at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Thousands of U. S. patients have been treated with various kinds of gene therapy, an experimental technique in which doctors use live viruses and other means to transport potentially therapeutic genes into the body just as Gelsinger was. Gelsinger suffered from Ornithine Transcarbamylase (OTC) deficiency, a genetic disorder that affects mostly boys. The disease blocks the body’s ability to break down ammonia, a normal byproduct of metabolism, and often causes death soon after birth.
As a result the FDA initiated proceeding that could have prevented the University of Pennsylvania gene therapy researcher, James Wilson, from testing experimental drugs or products on human subjects in this country. He repeatedly or deliberately violated regulations governing the proper conduct of clinical studies. How many people can say that they would want someone they trusted to perform a procedure that ultimately takes the research into his or her own hands and may result in death?
It stirs up not only ethical issues but issues such as prejudice and discrimination. Hypothetically say there are some doctors who will decide to take a risk with your gene therapy and either add or remove something experimental. What would be the purpose of the FDA placing the guidelines that they have for gene therapy there in the first place? Research doctors are the professionals expected to do everything according to set standards and guidelines when interacting with live human patients.
Although the hope for gene therapy is to eradicate inherited diseases, the potential for gross misuse is great. Procedures may progress to the unethical practice of choosing the eye color and physical characteristics of a child eventually leading to discrimination and prejudice. I believe that there is a reason for the different diseases and ailments in the world today. If there were never anything wrong with humans other than the occasional cold, I believe man would invent something which could develop into something as deadly as AIDS-which was developed in a lab.
If faced with the choice of genetic testing for a disease I would not do it. I would try every other method before trying it. I don’t want to say what my way is the only way or the right way but if I’m given the wrong test, or a researcher decides to do his own thing and not follow procedure, or maybe I’m injected with the wrong thing and I end up with something like cancer then I have to live with that, or die if that is a result.
Genetic testing will depreciate our quality of life and may result in discrimination, invasion of privacy, and harmful gene therapy. It can benefit society in numerous ways, such as the diagnosis of vulnerabilities to inherited diseases and ancestry verification. Genetic Testing also has the precarious capability to become a tool in selecting a more favorable genetic makeup of an individuals and ultimately cloning humans.