The scenario that I picked says that my wife and I get prenatal testing done on our unborn child. However, we discover that our son has a serious disease that will affect his lungs and is likely to shorten his lifespan, caused by the gene mutation for Cystic Fibrosis. The doctor tells us that we could fix the mutation by using gene therapy before our son is born. As we’re talking about gene therapy, the doctor asks whether we want to make our son intelligent, handsome, a gifted athlete, and a talented musician, by using gene enhancement. If it were my decision, then I would use only gene therapy to fix my son’s gene mutation because I would only care about my child’s health, and accept my child the way he is.
“Gene therapy is a new experimental technique that treats diseases by using genes, and works by inserting the genetic material into the cells to replace the abnormal genes, making a beneficial protein.” (Gene therapy, Genetic Home Reference) “In addition, there are certain viruses that are used in the gene therapy process such as, vectors which deliver the gene by infecting the cell.” (Gene therapy, Genetic Home Reference) Vectors are more common viruses and are always modified so they don’t cause diseases to patients’ bodies. “Other types of viruses are retrovirus which work by mixing the genetic material and the new gene into a chromosome in the body’s cell.” (Gene therapy, Genetic Home Reference) “As part of the gene therapy process, blood is withdrawn from a patient and analyzed in a laboratory.” (Gene therapy, Genetic Home Reference) “As part of this procedure, the immature cells are separate, and the new gene is added into those cells, which will multiply rapidly through the bone marrow.” (Gene therapy, Genetic Home Reference) In the end, “new cells will replace all the defective cells.” (Gene therapy, Genetic Home Reference) However, “the process of gene therapy is still under study to ensure that it will be safe because some studies show that this process can have some serious health problems, such as cancer and toxicity.” (Gene therapy, Genetic Home Reference) On the other hand, it’s also a promising treatment option for certain disease such as some types of cancer, and inherited disorders. Currently, gene therapy is being tested as a treatment for diseases that have no other cures. In the future, “doctors may treat a disorder by introducing a gene that can help the body to fight a disease.” (Gene therapy, Genetic Home Reference) “This can prevent the patient from having surgery or using drugs.” (Gene therapy, Genetic Home Reference)
“Gene enhancement works on the same principle as gene therapy, but people can choose to insert the attributes of offspring, such as height, eye color, and weight into the body instead of replacing the harmful genes.” (Gene Enhancement, National Human Genome Research Institute) This kind of genetic engineering has been successfully applied into fruit and vegetables. “Even though this process is still under study, it hasn’t been done on humans yet.” (Gene Enhancement, National Human Genome Research Institute) “Currently, there are animal experiments using the gene enhancement to improve the traits, such as growth rates and muscle mass.” (Gene Enhancement, National Human Genome Research Institute) Whereas the goal of this research is focused on preventing disease to humans, it’s also possible to use it for enhancing traits so someone can be better. In addition, “laboratory animals, such as Schwarzenegger mice, were given a gene injection and afterwards their muscles grew, and this treatment helped to recreate damaged tissue, such as muscular dystrophy.” (Gene Enhancement, National Human Genome Research Institute) Therefore, “this technology can be used for sports to improve athletic performance and to heal injured athletes.” (Gene Enhancement, National Human Genome Research Institute) Furthermore, “similar research of gene enhancement can be used to delay the ageing process by using a gene called MGF, mechano-growth factor, which regulates hormones that are produced after exercising that stimulates muscle production.” (Gene Enhancement, National Human Genome Research Institute) “As we age, the level of MGF decreases, and this is one of the reasons why we lose muscle mass as we grow older.” (Gene Enhancement, National Human Genome Research Institute) “To keep the gene MGF functioning, IGF-1, which is another muscle-building hormone, can work to regulate the hormones by increasing muscle mass which will allow the body to remain able-bodied and live much longer.” (Gene Enhancement, National Human Genome Research Institute)
I would use gene therapy to fix a mutation, such as Cystic Fibrosis before my child is born. On the other hand, I wouldn’t let the doctor use gene enhancement to make my child intelligent, handsome, a gifted athlete, or talented musician, for several reasons. First, I wouldn’t use gene enhancement because I love my child whether he’s intelligent or not, and I don’t want my child to ask me whether I was going to like him if he wasn’t handsome or intelligent. Second, I don’t think it’s right as a Christian to change the characteristic of a fetus because I should accept my child the way he is. Third, gene enhancement takes lots of money, so not all people will be able to make their children intelligent and handsome. This is a kind of discrimination because this feature is available only to the rich people. Therefore, if I am going to decide whether I would use gene enhancement or gene therapy, then I would use gene therapy for my child’s health because it’s the best way to make my child healthy.
Clearly, gene therapy is a process of inserting normal genes into someone’s genome to fix a genetic disorder. However, gene enhancement is a process of using technologies to choose the attributes of the offspring. I wouldn’t use gene enhancement because a parent’s love should be unconditional, and nobody should go against their beliefs. Therefore as a parent, I would use gene therapy to fix my child’s health so he doesn’t have to suffer a serious illness.
“Gene Therapy.” Genetics Home Reference. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2015.