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The Ethics of Medicine and DNA


Dodge
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Just wondering what everyone's two cents was on whether or not we should get into using DNA technology and our scientific potential of said technology, and tying it into medicine.

 

 

I think personally that it's a good idea.

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Absolutely, but then again I also think we should be researching all kinds of technologies. I'm all for Nuclear Fission, Stem Cell research, anything that propels us into the future.

 

I have faith that we as a species should be collectively responsible and intelligent enough to use all these technologies towards progress, instead of for destruction - i.e. nuclear bomb/warheads etc.

 

But then again, this is incredibly idealistic and naive. :confused

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Absolutely, but then again I also think we should be researching all kinds of technologies. I'm all for Nuclear Fission, Stem Cell research, anything that propels us into the future.

 

I have faith that we as a species should be collectively responsible and intelligent enough to use all these technologies towards progress, instead of for destruction - i.e. nuclear bomb/warheads etc.

 

But then again, this is incredibly idealistic and naive. :confused

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I dont have faith in humanity at all. We were put on this Earth to destroy it and humans as a whole have done a great job at it. Ill be here at most another 60-70 years so I could careless what happens when Im gone.

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Absolutely, but then again I also think we should be researching all kinds of technologies. I'm all for Nuclear Fission, Stem Cell research, anything that propels us into the future.

 

I have faith that we as a species should be collectively responsible and intelligent enough to use all these technologies towards progress, instead of for destruction - i.e. nuclear bomb/warheads etc.

 

But then again, this is incredibly idealistic and naive. :confused

838442[/snapback]

I dont have faith in humanity at all. We were put on this Earth to destroy it and humans as a whole have done a great job at it. Ill be here at most another 60-70 years so I could careless what happens when Im gone.

838493[/snapback]

 

So it's safe to assume that you're sterile and/or unable to reproduce with a mate?

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Absolutely, but then again I also think we should be researching all kinds of technologies. I'm all for Nuclear Fission, Stem Cell research, anything that propels us into the future.

 

I have faith that we as a species should be collectively responsible and intelligent enough to use all these technologies towards progress, instead of for destruction - i.e. nuclear bomb/warheads etc.

 

But then again, this is incredibly idealistic and naive. :confused

838442[/snapback]

I dont have faith in humanity at all. We were put on this Earth to destroy it and humans as a whole have done a great job at it. Ill be here at most another 60-70 years so I could careless what happens when Im gone.

838493[/snapback]

 

So it's safe to assume that you're sterile and/or unable to reproduce with a mate?

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LOL, just my pessimist coming out. Do you think humans are responsible enough to "play god"? Does the good out weigh the possible evils, in being able to alter DNA and possibly clone? Frankly in my lifetime and my childrens lifetime I hope humans can refrain from "playing god".

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I see your points, and personally I wouldn't want to mess with altering DNA. However I think it's a good idea to have people genetically tested and if they're at a high risk to produce offspring with a terrible genetic disorder (like Hutchinson's) than I think it's ok for the government to disallow a pregnancy.

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I see your points, and personally I wouldn't want to mess with altering DNA. However I think it's a good idea to have people genetically tested and if they're at a high risk to produce offspring with a terrible genetic disorder (like Hutchinson's) than I think it's ok for the government to disallow a pregnancy.

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Although Im in full support of genetic research and all, I think thats a bit extreme. You allow government to disallow pregnancy, and youve opened the door to another world. To be honest with you, I think both conservatives and liberals would unite against such a thing.

 

But back to the original topic, people have tried to hold science back throughout history with the "man is going too far" argument. Genetic research could be the harbinger to saving the world too.

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Well I at least think that insurance companies have a right to know IF you get a genetic test and what the results were of a possible test. I also think that they have a right to say that they will withhold insurance for any offspring of parents at high risk for producing offspring with a problem.

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Well I at least think that insurance companies have a right to know IF you get a genetic test and what the results were of a possible test. I also think that they have a right to say that they will withhold insurance for any offspring of parents at high risk for producing offspring with a problem.

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Effectivley youd be doing the exact same thing wouldnt you? Families with such a situation would never have kids because if they ended up with children that had the problems, then they would die under the financial burdens. Few points in response. Arent you kind of suggesting that some people with problems are less deserving of life? I mean isnt this the whole euthanasia problem? Dont even the physically defecient have the right to life? Second, the genetic testing cant be an exact science. If a family has a 70% chance of having a child with a disability, are they now effectivley precluded from ever having kids? Third, insurance companies are more after their bottom line. So theyll expand your definition of "problem" pretty far. What about people who are suffering from mental health problems? What about families with a history of heart disease? Fourth, families with disabled children right now shouldnt be denied health insurance. All of these are some major concerns and Im sure there are many more. Insurance companies should come second to families shouldnt they?

 

Like I said, IMO this is something the Christian Coalition and the ACLU would stand side by side for.

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Well I at least think that insurance companies have a right to know IF you get a genetic test and what the results were of a possible test. I also think that they have a right to say that they will withhold insurance for any offspring of parents at high risk for producing offspring with a problem.

838565[/snapback]

 

Effectivley youd be doing the exact same thing wouldnt you? Families with such a situation would never have kids because if they ended up with children that had the problems, then they would die under the financial burdens. Few points in response. Arent you kind of suggesting that some people with problems are less deserving of life? I mean isnt this the whole euthanasia problem? Dont even the physically defecient have the right to life? Second, the genetic testing cant be an exact science. If a family has a 70% chance of having a child with a disability, are they now effectivley precluded from ever having kids? Third, insurance companies are more after their bottom line. So theyll expand your definition of "problem" pretty far. What about people who are suffering from mental health problems? What about families with a history of heart disease? Fourth, families with disabled children right now shouldnt be denied health insurance. All of these are some major concerns and Im sure there are many more. Insurance companies should come second to families shouldnt they?

 

Like I said, IMO this is something the Christian Coalition and the ACLU would stand side by side for.

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I agree with you F_M. But what Dodge brings up is legitimate. This would open up way too many door, too many things could go wrong. This may seem wrong but people die, young and old, this world is already over populated, not everyone can be saved. The AVG Life Expectancy is around 75(?), seems old enough for me, when Im 75 the life expectancy will probably be 85. Is this truly necessary?

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Well I at least think that insurance companies have a right to know IF you get a genetic test and what the results were of a possible test. I also think that they have a right to say that they will withhold insurance for any offspring of parents at high risk for producing offspring with a problem.

838565[/snapback]

 

Effectivley youd be doing the exact same thing wouldnt you? Families with such a situation would never have kids because if they ended up with children that had the problems, then they would die under the financial burdens. Few points in response. Arent you kind of suggesting that some people with problems are less deserving of life? I mean isnt this the whole euthanasia problem? Dont even the physically defecient have the right to life? Second, the genetic testing cant be an exact science. If a family has a 70% chance of having a child with a disability, are they now effectivley precluded from ever having kids? Third, insurance companies are more after their bottom line. So theyll expand your definition of "problem" pretty far. What about people who are suffering from mental health problems? What about families with a history of heart disease? Fourth, families with disabled children right now shouldnt be denied health insurance. All of these are some major concerns and Im sure there are many more. Insurance companies should come second to families shouldnt they?

 

Like I said, IMO this is something the Christian Coalition and the ACLU would stand side by side for.

838598[/snapback]

I agree with you F_M. But what Dodge brings up is legitimate. This would open up way too many door, too many things could go wrong. This may seem wrong but people die, young and old, this world is already over populated, not everyone can be saved. The AVG Life Expectancy is around 75(?), seems old enough for me, when Im 75 the life expectancy will probably be 85. Is this truly necessary?

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Good point with the overage/overpopulation thing. But IMO the solution to overpopulation is more about progress in third world countries and less about increasing life expectancy. Advanced countries tend to have fewer children since families usually only have a couple of kids. The poor in third world countries are the one's just pumping kids out. If we can get the rest of the world to be more advanced, theyll stop pumping out the kids.

 

That said, you could ask whether we should cure Cancer because if we do, that will contribute to a lot of people living.

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Genetic research could be the key to our own future evolution. Not to mention it would benefit humanity in ways we cannot even begin to imagine.

 

But as with most things that have a great upside, they also have a great downside - which was the point of my original post anyways. Same with Nuclear technologies. We'll never be able to achieve true space exploration without nuclear research. BTW, France was just selected as the host of a test Nuclear Fission plant which is infinitely more efficient than our current nuclear technologies and does not produce nuclear waste.

 

Slowly but surely we get past all the hesitation and get to our goals, and while as a pessimist I could definitely agree that at the moment it seems like we will never be responsible enough to achieve and control any of these technologies. But I prefer to remain optimistic about such matters :thumbup

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Genetic research could be the key to our own future evolution. Not to mention it would benefit humanity in ways we cannot even begin to imagine.

 

But as with most things that have a great upside, they also have a great downside - which was the point of my original post anyways. Same with Nuclear technologies. We'll never be able to achieve true space exploration without nuclear research. BTW, France was just selected as the host of a test Nuclear Fission plant which is infinitely more efficient than our current nuclear technologies and does not produce nuclear waste.

 

Slowly but surely we get past all the hesitation and get to our goals, and while as a pessimist I could definitely agree that at the moment it seems like we will never be responsible enough to achieve and control any of these technologies. But I prefer to remain optimistic about such matters :thumbup

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Ive always felt that an enormous energy source could effectivley solve a lot of the problems in this world. Is fission even possible? From what I recall from AP Chem, it requires extremely high temperatures(as it occurs on the sun). Can we get those temperatures and even contain the energy creation? You would probably know more than I. But it would be a good discussion to have.

 

And I agree about the genetic research stuff. Im more optimistic than pessimistic. Either way, I dont think you can stop progress. It just cant be bottled up. So at least take advantage of it properly. Genetic research is going to change this world forever.

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I'm a dimwit, I actually mixed up the terms. What we currently have is nuclear fission, where we break the atoms to release energy - what they are working on is nuclear fusion, which is as you said it FM what goes on in the sun. Basically its taking Hydrogen isotopes and fusing them together to form heavier atoms such as Helium, and in the process of doing so releasing large amounts of energy in a much cleaner process with little waste to worry about. Here's the link: France gets Nuclear Fusion Plant

 

Very interesting and exciting stuff, just think of the possibilities. The power of the sun at our command, well almost... It is exhilarating.

 

And so is genetic research, and manipulation of DNA. It is possible and we've already had quite a bit of experience genetically engineering vegetables such as corn and tomatoes. We could potentially create larger easier, and faster growing food sources. Maybe even eliminate hunger?

 

Just one of the many possibilities.

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I am 100% behind stem cell research. I fully believe that by fully investing the money in it, we solve some of the biggest medical mysteries out there.

 

 

I think while nuclear energy sounds nice, its not the time or the place to try to explore those technologies. We are not even close to truly figuring them out from all that I am aware of.

 

 

We need to be focusing more on renewable sources of energy (solar,wind specifically) as the new wave of energy use. Granted working on some sort of nuclear energy program. If in some period of time, we are able to really figure out nuclear energy then we have it made.

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I'm shocked to see F_M take the more conservative viewpoint, contrary to mine on this subject.

 

 

You are right F_M there are a lot of gray areas when it comes to how high risk is TOO high risk. I'm not suggesting that people with problems are less deserving, what I'm suggesting is that parents with alleles that are more than say, 50% likely to yield offspring with a genetic problem shouldn't have the kids in the first place. I've always felt that pregnancy was an option but terminating anything beyond conception was inappropriate and a complete copout.

 

Personally I think that as a capitalistic and democratic nation, the United States should not withold the insurance companies rights to withold coverage. Obviously there needs to be a very clear and understood contract agreement, but we're only discussing the concept at this point.

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I'm shocked to see F_M take the more conservative viewpoint, contrary to mine on this subject.

 

 

You are right F_M there are a lot of gray areas when it comes to how high risk is TOO high risk. I'm not suggesting that people with problems are less deserving, what I'm suggesting is that parents with alleles that are more than say, 50% likely to yield offspring with a genetic problem shouldn't have the kids in the first place. I've always felt that pregnancy was an option but terminating anything beyond conception was inappropriate and a complete copout.

 

Personally I think that as a capitalistic and democratic nation, the United States should not withold the insurance companies rights to withold coverage. Obviously there needs to be a very clear and understood contract agreement, but we're only discussing the concept at this point.

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Have you ever seen Gattica? :mischief

 

The thing is, its both a conservative and liberal thing. The ACLU would go ape s*** over anything that involves reproductive rights and I guess thats my view. But I guess youre right in that Im taking an almost conception oriented viewpoint. The right to have kids is as absolute as the right not to.

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Here is an essay I have written for the topic - thoughts are appreciated.

 

 

The Pros of Incorporating DNA into Medicine

 

Scientists have made stunning advances in the last half-century or so, especially when one compares the advancements during the last few decades to the lack of scientific advancement for the last few thousand years. It is mind boggling to imagine ?what they will think of next,? but what much of the public doesn?t quite realize is that what the population has always considered to be ?in the future? is something scientists are right at the threshold of. Though modern medicine is on the brink of a new dimension and approach to fighting disease and disorders, we as a people are faced with a new, puzzling, and controversial dilemma, which is not just a moral dilemma, but a dilemma of cost-effectiveness and well-being also. Should science and medicine intertwine and use DNA to ?fix? genetic problems? This is the question at hand, and I will illustrate why we should indeed use this exciting and groundbreaking new field of medicine for the good of humankind.

 

Gene therapy may be the only way to really solve a genetic problem for good before it begins requiring costly medical intervention, causing more and more medical expenses over time. The flawed DNA, once located in the affected human, can be replaced by a ?normal? strand of DNA, which would produce a ?normal? protein, and, ideally, eliminate the disease?s symptoms altogether in a patient. The process of actually inserting a gene into a patient?s somatic cell is pretty well established at this point, and will only get safer with time. The process itself requires an extraction of the patient?s affected cells (ex: a patient with leukemia?s bone marrow cells) and the cells are taken to a lab, where a scientist would insert the normal synthetic gene. One method for the actual insertion of the gene is to use a virus that has been crippled and thus, rendered harmless. The virus would serve as the vehicle and would insert the genetic information into the patient?s somatic cells. Once the cells in the lab have been altered with the new genetic material, they are simply placed back into the body of the patient.

 

It sounds awfully simple, doesn?t it? The fact is, it is simple, and if we were to pursue this as the chief approach to helping folks with diseases, it would only get simpler. The biggest questions at hand are those of ethics and those of cost effectiveness. Although critics have a valid point that right now, the process is not necessarily as cost-effective as conventional medical treatment, however, it would hypothetically be a one time treatment, as opposed to many hospital visits over time. That itself would probably be worth the extra cost to any individual - who wants to have to plan their life around visiting the hospital all the time. Why always have to worry about having insulin in supply when you can have your diabetes rendered completely harmless for the rest of your life? This is just one example of how gene therapy can ease suffering of many individuals with disorders which they were born with. As time goes on, the process will become more efficient.

 

One cannot only consider the costs when evaluating gene therapy. There is a substantial and valid debate on the ethics of humans dabbling in human genetics. And with the primary debate come several other hot topics as a result. The big question is should humans even be performing these kind of procedures? Many say it is against the will of God for humans to be performing genetic alterations. However, many also feel that it?s God?s will for humans to use the knowledge they have to make the world a better place. Ultimately there is no right or wrong answer, it is up to each individual to decide.

 

The very thought of gene alteration quite frankly can be unsettling, however, especially considering that these methods may not always be used for healing. But let?s be realistic, not many people are going to invest time and money to go to college and graduate school just to become evil men of science - men which some folks theorize would take the technology of genetic therapy and use it to do evil things. Generally there is a lot more money to be made in a more traditional scientific setting, like an institute of research, perhaps.

 

There is no legitimate reason to fear human genetic therapy. We have the technology and knowledge, and it has nothing but good potential and promise. As humans it is our responsibility to use our knowledge, resources, and technologies to make the world a better place and to ease the suffering of our brethren. Should the United States government initiate a referendum to determine the legal fate of this issue, please support the usage of synthetic DNA and genes in medicine - it is your obligation as a citizen.

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