Genetic Testing: Benefits and Burdens

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Genetic Testing: Benefits and Burdens Thesis: The field of genetic testing is rapidly expanding. Numerous ethical issues are arising, within genetic testing, such as privacy issues, the potential of discrimination or eugenics, and how to convey the information properly. Background: Today we live in a very technologically advanced society. Scientists are continually discovering new things about the world and the way things work. "In the 1980ís, it was becoming increasingly apparent to many scientists that an understanding of basic biology would be greatly enhanced if the detailed structure of DNA was understood" (Mehlman, 1998). Thus began what has become know as The Human Genome Project which is "the mapping of all our 80,000-100,000 genes and decoding our complete DNA sequence of 3 billion base pairs" (van Ommen et al, 1999). In 1994 the Human Genome Project (HGP) created a complete map of the human genome (Mehlman, 1998). The completion of this did not mean the completion of the project by any means. A lot of work still needs to be done to identify more genetic markers. Since the start of the HGP "nearly all common genetic diseases and a large number of rarer ones have been traced back to one or more defective genes" (van Ommen et al, 1999). The completion of the HGP holds a lot of promise for the medical field. "In the distant future lies the possibility of developing specific therapies for disorders, such as cancers, upon knowing its genetic structure" (Mehlman, 1998). Diagnostics is the first area that has really benefited from the work of the HGP. With the HGP it has become easier to tell if an individual is suffering from a genetic disease or if an individualís DNA contains genetic material predisposing them o... ... middle of paper ... ...lbert, "Mastering our Gene(i)es: When Do We Say No?" Christian Century, Oct. 3 '90, Vol. 107, No. 27. van Ommen, G. J. B., E Bakker, and J T den Dunnen. "The Human Genome Project and the Future of Diagnostics, Treatment, and Prevention". Lancet , Jul 30 '99, p.354. Ward, Darrel E., "Gene Therapy: The Splice of Life." USA Today Magazine, Jan 93, Vol. 121 p. 63-66. Zimmern, R.L. "Genetic Testing: A Conceptual Exploration", Journal of Medical Ethics, Apr 99, Vol 25 p. 151-155. Web Resources: Web1: "Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis" [Online] Available: [November 1999]. Web 2: "The implications of Genetic Testing for Employment" [Online] Available: [issued July 1999]. Web 3: Merriam Webster Dictionary [Online] Available: [1999].
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