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Human Genetic Engineering,its Methods and EthicsBY: bluemoon silverstars | Category: Genetics | Submitted: 2010-05-19 02:06:25
Human genetic engineering is defined as"The changes in the genotype of an individual to produce the desired phenotype of an individual". It is an important field of biotechnology. This field guarantees that current diseases like cystic fibrosis and other viral diseases can be cured by applying certain changes to the genotype of an organism. Immunity of an organism can be increased against dangerous diseases by using techniques of human genetic engineering. In the beginning when scientists started working on this field, they believed that methods of genetic engineering will improve the mental illnesses like memory loss and intelligence. It was also believed that human genetic engineering would be able to change the appearance or phenotype of an organism. But now it all seems that it is a science fiction.
Human genetic engineering has not very long background. Scientists are still performing experiments. They are assigning genes to different body functions and diseases to see what type of changes occur in them. So it is uncertain whether these changes will give good results or not because sometimes experiments do not give the results which scientists need.
In 1990 first gene therapy was performed on a person who was suffering from Severe Combined Immunodeficiency. But it was just the beginning. Scientists succeeded in acquiring the desired results when a person regained normal immune system in 2000. He was also suffering from Severe Combined Immunodeficiency. But still scientists did not get the complete success because they observed that two out of ten patients were affected with leukemia. Leukemia is a disease in which red blood cell increase in their size abnormally. This disease occurred during the insertion of gene-carrying retro-virus near an oncogene. In 2007, more patients showed the symptoms of leukemia. Now scientists are focusing their attention on correcting the gene but oncogene should not be triggered.
But the treatment tried in SCID is the only success of scientists. Since 1999, seventeen children have restored their immune system by applying gene therapy. Two forms of disorder were observed in these children that is; ADA-SCID and X-SCID.
Human genetic engineering has made progress on a small scale. In the whole world there are various women who are infertile that is they can not reproduce. Such women have defect in their mitochondria which is genetic. Human genetic engineering and biotechnology has made it possible that an egg is taken from the healthy woman and it is fertilized in the laboratory with a sperm. When the egg is fertilized, it is inserted into the womb of infertile woman. That is how she gives birth to a healthy and normal child. In this method child has two mothers and one father. Germline is changed and it can be passed from generations to generations. Some more forms of human genetic engineering are still in the theoretical form. Gene expression and various human diseases are studied through recombinant DNA technology.
There are two forms of genetic engineering. One is negative and the other is positive genetic engineering. In negative genetic engineering, genetic disorders come under consideration. Genetic disorders are caused due to the changes in gene sequences. Due to this disorder, gene expresses itself in an abnormal way. While positive genetic engineering states that genome of the people could be modified in that way that they could re-grow organs and limbs.
There are some ethical issues also related to human genetic engineering. Animal activists have this point, that experiments are performed on animals which is against the law. These experiments are usually very painful. One more ethical issue is the right of the child. Some people say that baby should not be modified genetically and that a child has the right to come in this world freely without any experiments. Others state that parents have the right to change the appearance of their child. So we can say that genetic engineering has not yet progressed very well because of so many ethical issues.
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