Germline Gene Therapy Essay

554 words - 3 pages

Germline therapy entails altering the genes in egg or sperm cells before they are fertilized. It necessitates the use of in-vitro fertilization when dealing with embryos (“Human Gene Transfer Research,” 2011) and any genetic variations will be passed to future offspring (“Germ Line Therapy,” 2011). Currently, germline therapy is still in its infancy and has only been tested on animals (Darnovsky, 2013). Although this type of therapy decreases the risk of defective genes and thus, has the possibility of preventing congenital diseases, it has elicited substantial ethical controversies.
The major argument raised in favour of germline gene therapy originates from its usefulness. Every year, approximately 7.9 million newborns suffer from a genetic defect (Lobo & Zhaurova, 2008). This therapy, which has a therapeutic impact on not only the person whose gene is altered, but also for future generations, may be the only effective way to address these virtually incurable conditions, such as mitochondrial disease (Mckie, 2014). However, others have argued that because the procedure is unalterable, any errors that genetic engineers create will be transmitted to successive generations. Hence, the risks are magnified, even deadly, which cause this therapy type to be regarded as “ethically impermissible” (Hanna, 2006). Furthermore, it is unfeasible to attain direct consent of the embryo or of the future generations impacted.
In numerous countries, germline gene therapy is prohibited because it is “ethically unacceptable” (Isasi, Knoppers, & Nguyen, 2006). According to Canada’s Act Respecting Assisted Human Reproduction and Related Research 2004, this therapy is illicit and sanctioned severely, much like in France, as per the Bioethics Law, and the UK, where the Gene Therapy Advisory Committee considers it “unlawful” (Isasi, Knoppers, &...

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