Germline gene therapy.

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Omai
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Germline gene therapy.

Check out this website from the US National Library of Medicine on the Ethics of Gene Therapy. It contains links and information about germline gene therapy, the delivery of genes to sperm or eggs which would allow the gene to be transfered to future generation. The unborn child would not be able to have the ability to "choose" this treatment. Is this an ethical procedure?
Here is an addtional link on germline gene therapy.
 
Omai

Omai
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Up to this point, Germline

Up to this point, Germline gene therapy has only been used in animal models. Here is a website from Brown University with references to some examples. Here is a article in the McGill Journal of Medicine written by Torsten Neilson in 1997 claiming that germline gene therapy, while useful in disecting genetic pathways in model organisms, is not worth the risk in human beings.

What follows is a quote from the article:
"The major argument raised in favour of developing germline gene therapy derives from the ethical principle of beneficence (3): up to 2% of newborns suffer from some kind of genetic defect (5), including many of the most miserable diseases known (8), such as Lesch-Nyhan syndrome. Germline interventions may in some cases be the only way to prevent development of a genetic disease, furthermore, benefits would extend to future generations (9). A second important argument derives from the principle of liberty, holding that the majority who derive no benefits from this technology should not, in the name of "human dignity" or "integrity of the gene pool," curtail the specific interests of a minority seeking to cure genetic diseases without compelling cause (10).
The "ecological argument" has been put forward as an argument against germline gene therapy. It claims that the human gene pool, a product of thousands and millions of years of carefully balanced evolution, will potentially be weakened in unintended and unpredictable ways by germline gene therapy (11). For example, the loss of unrealized heterozygote advantages. However, as the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies believes (5), the risks to the gene pool (usually raised by non-geneticists) are grossly exaggerated, considering its vast size and fluidity; individual tinkering by rarely-utilized technologies would have an insignificant impact. Furthermore, the impact would be far lower than modifications to the gene pool induced by pediatric therapy in general (12).
Of greater concern is the claim that germline gene therapy would open the door to enhancement engineering of the human genome for eugenic purposes, which is consistently cited as the major problem with this technology. Fears of possible eugenic uses of germline gene therapy are based upon both the recent past history of the Western world, and on persisting large-scale, sometimes state-sponsored, programs in developing countries (13). A 1987 U.S. government poll found that a shocking 44% of Americans approved of scientists changing the makeup of human cells to improve the intelligence level and physical characteristics that children would inherit (4)."

As you can see this article is thought provoking and well written.
If you are at all interested in gene therapy, give it a read.

Omai