Monday, August 8, 2011

Genetic Engineering and Gene Therapy

Our genes play a role in a lot of things: our chances of getting cancer or diabetes, about how tall we will get, our looks, how long we live, whether or not we get genetic disorders like Huntington's Disease, how fat we get. Gene therapy and genetic engineering has the potential to change all of that. In the movie Gattaca, people are genetically engineered to be physically perfect, with great stamina, perfect vision, the whole shebang. People who haven't undergone genetic engineering are called invalids and are forced to take on menial jobs like janitorial work, for instance, because of their predisposition to diseases and physical abnormalities.
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The question of the day is... If you are expecting a baby with a genetic disorder like diabetes or Huntington's Disease, would you have your baby's genetic makeup altered to prevent said genetic disorder? If you could choose whether your children were predisposed to cancer or not, would you make that choice, or leave it to nature? What about more trivial things that can improve your child's quality of life and give him more opportunities, like height, longevity, or eye color? Should people be allowed to make these choices, if science ever makes these choices viable? More importantly, if these choices ever become available, is it okay for society to discriminate based on our genotype? Mesothelioma structured settlement

46 scientific replies:

thomau5 said...

tough question. i think i would only do it to prevent my child from diseases. I would want my child to be special and different rather than get everything changed to my liking. but who knows, maybe the generation below us will think completely differently

Max Silver said...

Yep! No problem with it whatsoever.

Sub-Radar-Mike said...

Scientifically inclined minds look towards this as the future, especially with severe gene defects.

That Bastard From Bellingham said...

Okay, two things...and it may make me seem like a hypocrite, which is something I loathe above all else (as much as I do traitors), so I apologize ahead of time.

Yes. In a fucking heartbeat, if I knew that my child was going to be predisposed towards a particular disease I'd want them to be genetically altered so that said disease never comes into play. Eyesight? Improved memory? Things of that nature is up to THEM, later on when they're old enough to make such a decision on their own.

But it behooves me as a parent to ensure that my child will have the very best chance to thrive and be fruitful as they age, at least when it comes to illness and disease. Everything else should be left to good ol' parentin' (I am a firm believer in WHUPPIN DAT ASS, despite what the American government might say about it. WHUPPIN DAT ASS and STAND IN THE CORNER GODAMMIT DON'T YOU FEEL DUMB NEVER DO THAT AGAIN! are exactly the only things that can save our nation, but sadly enough there aren't enough people doing it or willing to remember) and fate.

Now, with that stated I believe that biomedical technology and genetic modification IS our future. It's one we should embrace now and get it the fuck over with, if anything simply so we can start profiting from it as humanity in general.

But with such a thing WILL come genetic stigma as well.

I mean, on the one hand it would scientifically silence those who prefer to believe that race is a matter of genetic superiority (wasn't it already proven that it ain't?) when ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS on a human being provides such a thing. But on the other hand there probably will be a social stigma against those who aren't "enhanced" in ways that such technology (at it's furthest and most extreme pro'lly) could provide.

Humanity will probably always be like that though. We've been that way for millions of years and it'll probably take millions more before we get that bred out of us...and even then, we probably wouldn't be human anymore.

...where was I? So yes, my second point is simply that there probably WILL be stigma at the level of flat-out bullying discrimination against those who lack genetic "superiority."

On the other hand I'd like to think the best of humanity (even at my most pessimistic and even if I have to force such optimism) and I'd like to at least hope that when such a situation comes up it'll be pointed out that it's differences that makes the individual stronger, that competition thrives on there being different factors for each individual.

Sorry for the ramble, but I think by now I've proven that all I ever do is ramble...

M Fawful said...

I would absolutely use genetic screening if I was going to have a child via in vitro fertilization. This is already starting to become common in some places. It's a eugenic process, good for society.

Bulletproof Zombie said...

My kid brother was born with tuberculosis AND polycystic kidneys. He's sixteen years old, looks twelve, acts twelve, and has a body that superficially looks fine, but is riddled with disease. He has "overdue expiration date" written all over his genetics. There have been many a night that I have shed tears as I've laid in bed, wondering why it couldn't have been me instead.

Yes. I would make that call in a heartbeat. Considering I could have his disease right now, and there's a fifty-percent chance I could pass it on...but since we have different fathers, I won't know for sure until a diagnosis comes up.

It kills me a little.

Bulletproof Zombie said...

But only for the life-threatening things. Everything else is up to Nature.

Inverse said...

I would give my kid everything if I could through gene therapy, perfect looks, athletic build, high IQ, everything!
It seems selfish and an act of jealousy not to do it if you had the means.

TheUndeclaredWinner said...

Someone's response was longer than that post, lol.
Ethics is what it all comes down to, Ethics and Morals.

Bersercules said...

Wow, this is one of the topics out there that I don't have a side on! But I think people should be free to try things. But if its for the best or not who knows!

convictus said...

Having lost a child to in utero for somewhat unknown reasons, I know that in a heart beat I would prevent that kind of pain from happening in my life. That said, I don't know that science is currently capable of that kind of precision. We have ideas, and some really good leads, but thus far I don't believe that any scientist has the moxie to try to claim to be able to selectively alter genes with no adverse effects.

marrujoa said...

I think when somebody doesn't have to look at this toward their own family, they would leave it to nature. However, I think when the moment really comes to them, they would opt for the change in genetic makeup.

Myself, I would probably go with gene altering only if the testing is made to be 100% safe, and doesn't effect other hereditary attributes. I would just want the baby to be altered so it is safe.

Jammer said...

They are doing blood tests on mom as early as 7 weeks. Some problems are more likely in the different sexes.

GMSoccerPicks said...

If there is a VERY good reason to do it, im all for it. Now if its for vanity or some stupid reason like that, no, i dont approve it as i feel its highly unethical

GENETICS said...

@GM: What if a girl is going to be born with a genetic condition so she'll be without hair? There are many cosmetic reasons, but genetic manipulation would improve her life a lot.

Charles Godfrey said...

Well, GATTACA shows us that even if we may be invalids, we can still amount to something!

ChazWellington said...

if i could, i would genetically engineer my child to be a professional athlete. then train him everyday

Fizzums said...

Absolutely. Why bring a child into the world that's gonna be in for a world of hurt the entire time? That's no good.

The Sorrow said...

Your blog have realy intelligent txts. Loved

Jacob McCann said...

Wow, this was a really interesting post, and some of the comments are really opinionated. +1 follow

Bloggerage said...

mmm interesting. Good read :)

RangerDanger said...

if its broke, why not fix it?

Této said...

This is greatly educational will read it in full in a little while but it sounds like I will learn something new today :) thanks. followed

Bruce Kent said...

If nature wants to come between me and my child, I'm going to fight it with genetic engineering. All for love.

T Papar said...

ofc i support any cure for genetic disorders and i would use them on my children but i am against all type of "vanity changes" as i like to call them.
problem is that both will come from the same technology and guess which one will be more wide-spread...

Mekkor said...

fighting diseases with genetic engineering is the right thing (in my opinion) but i think altering the appereance, height, eye colour etc of your child is something that should be done by nature not by mankind
Its all about playing god and morals

Life is Great said...

I would , why would you want your child to suffer growing up , knowing full well you could have prevented it

M Fawful said...

I would even support using it for cosmetic reasons. It seems fair to keep people locked into ugliness, but being ugly can be as painful (or more) as many medical problems.

Sketchar said...

I for one support the use of gene manipulation, but I question the effectiveness of the procedures used though, since you don't want to risk something worse.

ER Technician said...

Faced with serious life debilitating genetic diseases, I think you'd have to be a bit crazy not to try and change that. Even the Amish farmers have accepted modern medicine for their genetic diseases.

Timothy Bowen said...

is itokay for society to discriminate based on our genotype?

absolutely not. I tend to think that nurture is just as important, if not more, than nature.

Jake said...

I think that if this becomes readily and successfully available one should have the choice to do it. Having a child free of illness would be worth it alone. To me this seems like the next step in human evolution. Good read/thoughts! +1 followed

Kyran said...

It would be beneficial for diseases and such. But it nullifies survival of the fittest. Who's to say we're done evolving? These genetic defects and predispositions may play a large role in further refining and purifying our DNA in the future. It could be argued that technological advancements are a form of evolution but we can't discount the power of organic change.

Jay Smith said...

This is somewhat of a controversial topic. I personally believe genetic alteration has good intentions, but it could turn into something terrible.

The Dynamic Trend said...

I would have my child genetically engineered.

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