by RAKSHA DONDAPATI Staff Writer
The matter of inserting new DNA into living things, especially people, in order to try to cure them of genetic disorders is an innovative and amazing way to help people, as long as it does not go beyond medicine and into physical appearance.
Genetic disorders are mutations or abnormal occurrences in the genetic composition of an individual. Two examples are cystic fibrosis, which is a mutation of the CFTR (cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator) gene, resulting in mucus within organs, and dwarfism, the most common type caused by a mutation of the FGFR3 (fibroblast growth factor receptor 3) gene.
There are several ways of inserting DNA into a living thing in order to accomplish gene therapy, the most common being altering a virus to insert genes into a cell to genetically “fix” a patient.
One of the non-viral methods is electroporation, which uses short pulses of high voltage energy to carry genetic material across a cell membrane.
Recently, there has been a lot of research about the subject of gene therapy, as well as positive results from some tested therapies.
A group of dogs have been cured of their diabetes, at least for some time, the sense of smell has been restored in some mice, and the lives of children with a rare brain disorder have been extended. Of course, more time and research will need to be put in, but so far, progress looks positive.
Gene therapy is a very beneficial idea. Many die from genetic disorders, and even those who do not have a very short life span live with great difficulty throughout their lives. If gene therapy proves to be a successful technique, it should definitely be implemented to save people, by their choice, of course.
“I think it would be a really good option for people. Who wouldn’t want to be cured of a medical disorder?” said an anonymous student. “I know someone who would be really grateful.”
However, helping people with medical issues should be as far as gene therapy should go. Without restrictions, it may lead to situations such as parents “designing” their child, choosing traits that they favor.
Such a use of gene therapy goes too much against nature. It just does not seem right to change a person with no problems just to make them “better” in another’s or society’s opinion.
It could also potentially alter the science or view of topics, such as genetic variance and evolution.
“Gene therapy should only be used for good or reasonable purposes. It is good because it can stop hereditary disorders from being passed down generations….However, it may be harder to apply Charles Darwin’s idea of adaptation if people can pick traits themselves. There may be less variations and uniqueness in all of us,” said freshman Charvonne Tsang.
Gene therapy can either be a hero or an abused procedure. Trying to cure people who will die or live with hardships is one thing, but changing or choosing traits for no important reason is something else entirely.