Related or contrasting ideas may be found in the sections on Animal Rights, Knowledge, Life, Medical Ethics, Nature, Progress, and Science




НазваниеRelated or contrasting ideas may be found in the sections on Animal Rights, Knowledge, Life, Medical Ethics, Nature, Progress, and Science
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Human genetic engineering can cure genetic diseases

Genetic technology has created the option for regenerative medicine

Chris Ganchoff (Assistant Professor of Sociology, Michigan State Univ.), “Eugenic undergrounds: stem cells and human futures,” New Formations, Spring 2007, p. 112

“Advances at the molecular and cellular level have produced new tools and techniques, and have coalesced into institutional forms like the discipline of molecular biology, and international enterprises like the Human Genome Project. This set of changes is setting the stage for a new kind of medicine, regenerative medicine. Regenerative medicine differs from older forms of medicine: curative medicine uses techniques such as surgery, chemo- or radiation therapies, prosthetics and organ transplantation, and/or pharmacological interventions to isolate and destroy the lesion or infection that is the underlying cause of the pathology, or to mechanically or molecularly replicate lost functionality. Regenerative medicine, on the other hand, constructs replacement parts, such as cells, tissues and organs, which substitute for the malfunctioning biological system. These replacement parts are formed from human (and non-human) biological precursors, for example embryonic stem cells, which can be created from a person’s own somatic cells and a donor egg cell (through a process known as nuclear transfer or NT). They can also be amalgams of biological and mechanical parts. Thus cell therapies from NT result in cells that are created in vitro, but are genetically identical to the person needing cell replacement therapy.”


Replacing defective genes may cure human genetic disorders

Eve and Albert Stwertka (physicians and college instructors), Genetic Engineering, revised edition, 1989, p. 44

“In the field of medicine, scientists are now introducing new combinations of genes directly into animal cells in an attempt to cure some of the diseases known to be caused by defective gene structure. By transferring a functioning gene into the cell to correct the faulty gene, it is hoped that a cure for such human disorders as sickle-cell anemia and dwarfism will be found.”


The new genetics empowers people better to direct their own health

Alan Petersen (prof. of sociology, Monash University at Clayton, Australia), “Is the new genetics eugenic?: interpreting the past, envisioning the future,” New Formations, Spring 2007, p. 79

“Proponents of the new genetics tend to embrace a progressive view of history, heralding the arrival of the ‘post-genomic’ era as one in which the individual will be empowered through being offered more choice in their health-related decisions. The individual who knows they are a potential carrier of a genetic defect will have the option of terminating a pregnancy at an early stage, while knowing that they are at risk of developing, or will develop, a genetic-related condition will allow them to take preventive action and better plan their lives.”


Gene therapy can target many ills

Jeff Lyon and Peter Gorner (staff writers, Chicago Tribune; co-winners, 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Journalism for reporting on genetic engineering), Altered Fates: The Promise of Gene Therapy, 1986, p. 1

“Many genetic researchers foresee a day when such inherited killers and disablers as cystic fibrosis, muscular dystophy, hemophilia, sickle cell anemia, beta thalassemia, Tay-Sachs disease, phenylketonuria (PKU), Huntington’s chorea, and neurofibromatosis (Elephant Man’s disease) may be treated and cured by gene therapy.”


Metabolic disease will be treatable

Eve and Albert Stwertka (physicians and college instructors), Genetic Engineering, revised edition, 1989, p. 112

“Indeed, there us a good chance that disabilities such as those caused by the lack of an enzyme will become curable by genetic engineering. This might be done by placing normal liver cells capable of making the enzyme into the fetal bloodstream. If all went according to plan, these cells would lodge in the fetal liver, multiply there, and take over production of the missing substance.”


Metabolic diseases seem likely targets for cures

Carl Heintze (public information officer, The Institute for Medical Research), Genetic Engineering: Man and Nature in Transition, 1974, p. 110

“A second large group of birth defects, however, may lend itself to gene control. These disorders are caused by genes that order improper, unnecessary, or insufficient protein synthesis — a fact that gives this group of defects another name: inborn errors of metabolism.”


Rebuilding defective cells will be possible

Bernard D. Davis (prof. of bacterial physiology, Harvard Medical School), in Manipulating Life, ed. by Gary McCuen, 1985, p. 18

“First, the therapy of even single-gene defects is not yet around the corner, though replacement of defective cells is beginning to look feasible for those cells that function in widely distributed, loosely organized locations.”


Curing multi-organ diseases will be possible

Leslie Roberts (staff writer; deputy news editor, 2000-), “Ethical questions haunt new genetic technologies,” Science, March 3, 1989, p. 1135

“But already some investigators are saying that if and when the formidable technical obstacles can be overcome, germ line therapy may be the best approach for certain diseases — perhaps those that affect multiple organs — and they balk against shutting the door on it.”


The ultimate goal is healthy births

Joseph Fletcher (prof. of medical ethics, Univ. of Virginia School of Medicine), The Ethics of Genetic Control, 1974, p. 56

“The ultimate goal of genetic engineering is not to ameliorate the ills of patients prenatally or postnatally, but to start people off healthy and free of disease through the practice of medicine pre-conceptively. It is a matter of directed and rational mutations, over and against the accidental mutations now going on blindly in nature. It aims to control people’s initial design and constitution — their genotypes — by gene surgery (transduction) and by genetic design (insertion and deletion)”


Healthy births are more desirable than post-natal medical care

Joseph Fletcher (prof. of medical ethics, Univ. of Virginia School of Medicine), The Ethics of Genetic Control, 1974, p. 54

“The point about preconceptive medicine, or ‘genetic engineering’ in the narrow meaning of the term, is that as it succeeds it reduces the amount of human misery and cuts down the expensive and inconclusive struggle of post-natal medicine. The latter can only come into play after the damage is done. It is important, furthermore, to note that genetic engineering reduces the need to resort to abortion.”


Human genetic engineering cannot cure genetic diseases

Genetic modification is not needed for the treatment of disease

Richard Hayes (executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society in Oakland, California), “The science and politics of genetically modified humans,” World Watch, July-August 2002, p. 12

“People often assume that IGM [inheritable genetic modification] is needed to enable couples to avoid passing inheritable genetic diseases such as Tay Sachs and cystic fibrosis to their children. This is not so, and those who say it is are either misinformed or seeking to mislead. Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and other options available today allow such couples to have children completely free of the harmful genes, in all but a very small number of situations. IGM would be necessary only if a couple wished to ‘enhance’ a child with genes that neither of them carry.”


Early genetic diagnoses are unreliable because they rely on statistical models

Sheldon Krimsky (Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University) and Ruth Hubbard (professor emerita of biology, Harvard University), “The business of research,” The Hastings Center Report, January-February 1995, p. 43

“Predictive genetic diagnoses are worrisome because they feed the mistaken ideology proclaiming that genes are the chief determinants of human health and well-being. In addition, in most situations, genetic predictions are only statistical. Since most conditions are quite variable, the diagnoses cannot predict individual outcomes. If preimplantation diagnosis begins to be used routinely, IVF [in vitro fertilization] could become the preferred means of procreation for those who want to avoid using abortion to prevent the birth of a child predicted to be born with a disability. However, only a small minority of women will be able to afford to take that route.”


DNA is horribly complex

David Jackson (chief scientific officer, Genex Corp.), in Manipulating Life, ed. by Gary McCuen, 1985, p. 31

“The complexity of the genetic material can be graphically appreciated by thinking of the DNA molecule as a piece of yarn, in which the yarn is about 100,000 times the size of the DNA molecule. On this scale, a typical gene is just two inches long. On the same scale, the DNA content of the simplest microorganism is about one-tenth of a mile of yarn. And the DNA content of a single human cell is equivalent too 100 miles of yarn.”


We know very little about human genetics

Carl Heintze (public information officer, The Institute for Medical Research), Genetic Engineering: Man and Nature in Transition, 1974, p. 107

“The control of genes, however, is not a simple as the control of reproduction. Although man now understands with some clarity what a gene is — a portion of the sequence of the DNA molecule — he remains unsure of the length of such sequences and their location in the double helix of the molecule. Moreover, the way in which genes control the growth of cells and their reproduction is not understood very well either.”


There are no definitive standards for evaluating genes

Stephen L. Baird (technology education teacher at Bayside Middle School, Virginia Beach, Virginia; adjunct faculty member at Old Dominion University), “Designer babies: eugenics repackaged or consumer options?” The Technology Teacher, April 2007, p. 15

“There is no universally accepted ideal of biological perfection. To make intentional changes in the genes that people will pass on to their descendants would require that we, as a society, agree on how to classify ‘good’ and ‘bad’ genes. We do not have the necessary criteria, nor are there mechanisms for establishing such measures. Any formulation of such criteria would inevitably reflect particular current social biases. The definition of the standards and the technological means for implementing them would largely be determined by economically and socially privileged groups.”


Because of gene interaction, it’s not possible to identity ‘bad genes’

Brian Halweil (research associate, World Watch Institute) and Dick Bell (senior policy adviser, World Watch Institute), “Beyond cloning: the larger agenda of human engineering,” World Watch, July-August 2002, p. 10

“Our sense of caution is reinforced by the growing body of knowledge demonstrating that genes do not act in a vacuum — that the function of a particular gene changes, depending on the environment, on the stage in the organism’s life, and on interaction with other genes. In such a complex context, trying to distinguish ‘good’ genes from ‘bad’ genes becomes a fool’s errand. But as the old torch song goes, fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”


We cannot identify ‘good’ replacement genes

Carl Heintze (public information officer, The Institute for Medical Research), Genetic Engineering: Man and Nature in Transition, 1974, p. 113

“First, nothing yet is known about how genes regulate the production of enzymes to be sure simply replacing one bit of DNA with another would correct the faulty cell’s machinery. Second, DNA fragments, even those that are ‘good’ for the cell, might, like transplanted tissue and organs, be seen by the cell as foreign and this be rejected by it.”


Limiting genetic changes to the sole change desired is beyond our abilities

The President’s Council on Bioethics, Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness, 2003, p. 38-39

“Even more of an obstacle to successful genetic engineering is the practical difficulty of inserting genes into embryos (or gametes) in ways that would produce the desired result and only the desired result. Getting the genes into the right place in the cell, able to function yet without disturbing regular cellular functions, is an enormously challenging task. Insertion of genes into the host genome can cause abnormalities, either by activating harmful genes or by inactivating useful ones. Recently, for example, children undergoing experimental gene therapy for immune system deficiencies have developed leukemia after retroviral gene transfer into bone marrow stem cells, very likely the result of activation of a cancer-producing gene by the virus used to transfer the therapeutic genes into the cell. And should introduced genes become inserted into inappropriate locations, normal host genes could be inactivated. Moreover, because many genes are pleiotropic — that is, they influence many traits, not just one — even a properly inserted gene introduced to enhance a particular trait would often have multiple effects, not all of them for the better.”


Inserting replacement genes is a technical nightmare

June Goodfield (fellow, British Royal Society of Medicine), Playing God: Genetic Engineering and the Manipulation of Life, 1977, p. 49

“The notion of being able to replace defective genes is a prospect both dazzling and daunting — dazzling because of its scientific and medical value, daunting because it is not simply a question of inserting the correct gene just somewhere in the body. It means getting the gene in, in the right amount, at the right stage of development, where it will be subject to the right kind of regulation; and that possibility is years off.”


There is no assurance that human genetic modification will be reliable and replicable

Tom Athanasiou (Executive Director of EcoEquity) and Marcy Darnovsky (Associate Executive Director of the Center for Genetics and Society), “The genome as a commons: through all the trials and tribulations of human history, what binds us in the end is our common humanity,” World Watch, July-August 2002, p. 34

“Notwithstanding the flesh-and-blood accomplishments of genetic scientists — glow-in-the-dark rabbits and goats that lactate spider silk — artificial genes and chromosomes may never work as reliably as advertised. Transgenic designer babies may be too riddled with unpredictability or malfunction to ever become a popular option.”


Gene insertion has a failure rate above 99.9%

Inder M. Verma (prof. of molecular biology, Salk Institute), “Gene Therapy,” Scientific American, November 1990, p. 66

“In reality, investigators have found it extremely difficult to control the fate of DNA inserted into cells. For every gene spliced into the correct place, more than one thousand fit randomly into the genome (the total DNA of the cell).”


It is unclear if gene therapy will ever be possible

David Jackson (chief scientific officer, Genex Corp.), in Manipulating Life, ed. by Gary McCuen, 1985, p. 30

“It is equally true that many of the widely discussed applications of genetic engineering, especially many of the ones involving applications to humans, are of almost unimaginable complexity. They certainly cannot be done now. Moreover, it is unclear that they will be possible, let along desirable from either a pragmatic or an ethic perspective, in the clearly forseeable future.”


Experts believe that reliable therapy is unlikely

David Jackson (chief scientific officer, Genex Corp.), in Manipulating Life, ed. by Gary McCuen, 1985, p. 32

“Leaving aside the formidable problems of how to identify an embryo carrying a defective gene at such an early stage of development, I find it almost impossible to believe that the precision with which we can engineer something as complex as the DNA of human cells will be attained with a sufficiently high level of confidence that the procedure will be either ethically acceptable or pragmatically desirable.”

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