Genetic Testing and Screening

opinionated Essay
1432 words
1432 words

Genetic screening is the testing of variations in gene sequences in protein or DNA. Protein screening is easier, but DNA screening is more powerful. It is a 'physical screening for a protein or genetic abnormality that may allow detection of a disorder before there are physical signs of it, or even before a gene is expressed if it acts later in life.' (web). This is a technique that is used on nonhuman species such as plants and some animals and is not questioned. The real question is if we should use it on humans.

The procedure of genetic screening is the binding of a probe to a DNA molecule of the patient. Complementary DNA nucleotide sequences bind together, so the probe is single stranded DNA that binds to it's "mate" in the patient. Scientists try to use probes that are independent of family history, so there is no consent or samples needed from parents of the patient. The patients DNA is analyzed by Random Fragment Length Polymorphism, of RFLP. The DNA is cut by restriction endonucleases, separated and examined. The results are not always clear. Many diseases have mutations, so this makes screening even more difficult, and only the common mutations are screened for. There is also the problem of expressivity of the disease. It may be more or less severe in one patient than another because of age, progress speed, multiple gene activity, or ant number of environmental factors. Also, many diseases arise spontaneously and are not inherited from either parent and cannot be screened for.

There are many ethical concerns with genetic screening, just a few are social and physiological problems, the use by insurance companies, "ordering" a baby, selective abortions, more embryos made than implanted, and quality and reliability of...

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...t are not; and even if all people know the risks and benefits, they will never agree.

I think genetic screening is a good piece of technology. It has saved a large number of babies from living with PKU, it can help people treat diseases earlier, be prepared for late onset diseases, and take the necessary precautions to prevent a disease they are susceptible to. These are wonderful advances in the health technology. What I would hate to see in the future is for parents to order children with "all the options". Something wonderful can always turn to something terrible in the wrong hands. There has to be a line drawn somewhere, and that is the question, where? And even if there are laws prohibiting, there are people who do not obey the law (to the letter). There is still something to be said about marrying for love (and not genes) and letting nature take its course.

In this essay, the author

  • Opines that the birth of a baby is the most wonderful thing parents can go through, or it is supposed to be.
  • Explains that genetic screening is the testing of variations in gene sequences in protein or dna.
  • Opines that there is a large market for genetic screening in commercial and pharmaceutical business; the public needs to be educated on the reality of its use and ability.
  • Opines that the cost of case finding should be economically balanced in relation to possible expenditure on medical care as a whole.
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