Gene Manipulation – Disease Destroyer?

One example of CRISPR technology that is discussed is using gene editing to attempt to eliminate diseases. The exhilarating aspects of this example is that if gene editing for serious genetic diseases is successful, it could prevent “suffering and death caused by disorders such as cystic fibrosis and Huntington’s disease” as explained in Harris’s section of the reading (Harris). The frightening aspects of this example, explained in Darnovsky’s portion of the reading, are that gene editing “would not treat any existing person’s medical diseases” (Darnovsky). Furthermore, Darnovsky goes to say that “far too much is unknown about issues including off-target mutations (unintentional edits to the genome), persistent editing effects, genetic mechanisms in embryonic and fetal development, and longer-term health and safety consequences” (Darnovsky).

I personally don’t think that gene editing should be done on humans. While it has been successful on other species, such as ridding pigs of viruses and altering genes in rice plants, I think that gene alterations of humans is risky. I also agree with Marcy Darnovsky when she says that there are “social and ethical concerns” about genetic editing when you consider which traits should be selected and deselected. Additionally, Darnovsky makes a fair point when she says that “it is true that a few couples—a very small number—would not be able to produce unaffected embryos, and so could not use PGD to prevent disease inheritance” (Darnovsky). Gene editing could be something we use in the future, but right now I don’t think that it should be done on humans because of the social, ethical, and political concerns that it raises.

6 thoughts on “Gene Manipulation – Disease Destroyer?”

  1. Hi Hali
    Great blog post! I agree with your point that gene editing on humans is risky. Too much is unknown on the future effects of this and there are many ethical questions to this subject. But, as you mention in your second paragraph, there are a small number of couples that would not be able to produce unaffected embryos, and gene editing in these cases could be done to save lives. It should definitely only be done in the cases when it is very necessary.

  2. I do agree with you. I relate to feeling conflicting when dealing with gene editing. It’s hard because everyone wants to allow people the chance to fight off diseases, but there is so much that is unknown. I think you bring up really good points in your blog. I appreciate you mentioning the social, ethical, and political issues. I think those issues tend to be left out of the conversation. What, in your opinion, will be enough to convince people that science is ready for gene editing in humans? Should there be studies? Do you think the public will struggle to decide if those are ethical as well?

  3. Hey Hali, Great post everything you put in was well stated and backed up with accurate evidence, it was overall easy to follow and I understand and agree with some of your points. I think that gene editing should not be done on humans yet even if it is successful on animals or bugs. One of the biggest problems with human gene editing would be the ethical portion like you stated, do we really want to change a human to be exactly what we want, and another thing is that can we over use and over power a human based on the ability to edit their genetic makeup.

  4. I do agree that it is risky but is that not every new science especially concerning changing humans? It seems that most people are focusing on what we will take away from peoples genetics rather than what we could be learning more about them. Which would be the true focus of genetic study. It is understandable to fear change particularly when we have such dramatic media portraying movies like Gattaca where everyone has designer DNA or is left behind in society. It makes me think of Plato’s cave just because someone comes back with a mottled image of what could be beyond the cave entrance of knowledge does not mean it is an accurate picture of what is truly beyond the knowledge of genetic understanding. To say it more plainly just because somebody cries change does not mean it will fundamentally alter our society. It is usually the things we don’t see coming that alter our society like cell phones or the internet.

  5. I like your first paragraph in how it takes both sides of one example into consideration. I personally believe that we should look further into gene editing in order to prevent hereditary diseases. However, Darnovsky is right about us not knowing about any side effects that could occur with gene editing and it is scary to think about. As for your take in the second paragraph, I think the risk of gene editing in humans is decreased with further research and development. That being said, I fully agree with your mentioning of the ethical and social aspect. As I believe that gene editing is super beneficial, there is a certain uneasiness that comes with the thought of it being a reality. Good Job!

  6. Hey Hali, I very much enjoyed your blog post. I saw alot of the same ideas I had in your blog post so that was comforting. But I believe that the biggest thing you touched on was the tampering of genes within the human body. I also believe this could be a very beneficial thing possibly but as you mentioned this also comes with very bad side affects possibly. Is this move in the best interest of the nation, of baby’s to come in the future, its very cliche to say but do we want a world where everyone is the same and perfect, where there is no individuality to this world. I ma be getting to personal or ethical with my response but these are the things we must think of before making such bold and god like moves.

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