Techniques and Outcomes of Germ-line Gene Therapy

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The Relative Positives and Negatives Behind the Techniques and Outcomes of Germ-line Gene Therapy


Ever since the idea of altering the human genome was created through the research of germ-line gene therapy, advocates and protestors entered into contention with one another. Supporters of the new technology argue about the benefits of germ-line therapy. Humans have the right to scientific inquiry, especially if it is beneficial to mankind. However, their counterparts claim that the difficulty and unknown side effects (coupled with a few unsuccessful and fatal trials) will cause damage greater than any potential good. Furthermore, some even argue with the ethical issues resultant of a possible eugenics movement. Despite level of intellect or personal opinion about the issue, the new, viable chance for germ-line genetic therapy has quickly become a major issue of controversy.

Since the dawn of time, man has striven to postpone death while increasing his quality of life. In 1991, human medicine opened an entire new horizon when Ashanti DeSilva became the first person in the world to receive gene therapy for her illness (Gene Therapy Turns 10, 2001). Doctors managed to add a critical gene that allowed her to produce the then absent (and essential) adenosine deaminase (ADA) enzyme. However, because only somatic cells are effected, this practice only has partial success, as DeSilva still needs to take weekly injections of the DNA. Thus, the idea of germ-line gene therapy was born. Germ-line therapy, the altering of embryonic and sex cells of the body, allows all of the new cells in the body to contain DNA along with all future offspring produced by that individual. With the notion that germ-line altering could soon become a...

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