Are There Justifiable Limits to Genetic Research?
The Human Genome Project is often referred to as one of the most exciting and revolutionary developments in modern medicine, with the potential to unveil the mysteries of disease and lead to the prevention of hereditary disease and disability (Miller 152). The original determining of the primary structure of the human genome was completed in 2003, on the other hand scientists are still attempting to understand what is described as ‘a vast resource of raw information.’ As soon as the human genome sequence was proclaimed, it was seen as one of the greatest scientific achievements in modern history; with good reason, the assumption prevailed. Determining the structure and nature of the genetic code promises to provide valuable insight into human evolution and the molecular basis of disease, although sequencing the genome is just the first step towards the goal of determining the meaning or function to every sequence. In doing this, the range of genetic research and testing spreads into many different areas of study that produce ethical issues in the types of research that are performed (Cullen 279). Currently, a number of ethical as well as legal issues are at hand that have to be considered before scientists can confidently use this information to maximize health benefits. As science progresses over time, the issues of genetic research will raise substantial concerns for a number of people, and it will continue to rise. Therefore, limits need to be set on certain areas of genetic research to allow a better governing of this research in order to prevent unethical events that could possibly lead to the annihilation of genetic study as a whole. The swift development of genetic research raises the sort of questions that scientific or government based institutions should address. Some genetic research could help cure and prevent diseases that have tormented humanity for thousands of years if established wisely; if misapplied and mishandled, if misapplied, they could pose new and severely consequential risks. Detailed knowledge of the human genome may lead to improved medical diagnostics, but at the same time could lead to a world in which prosperous couples modify their embryos genetically attempting to create “designer babies.” The creation of cloning human embryos gives researchers tools to help investigate the developmental origin of congenital diseases, but brings us closer to the day when rogue scientists might attempt to create live-born human clones (Gockel 355). In 1996, Dolly was created and kept a secret from the public until after her birth was a success; this was obviously done due to the expectation of cloning being rejected. This event crossed many ethical boundaries and proved that without proper placement of limitations in genetic research, the types of cloning and other genetically-engineered cases could occur again. Ethical issues are also found in genetic interventions intended to help those suffering from degenerative muscular diseases, and could be used by athletes to illicitly enhance their strength and endurance (Lemke 83). Within the context of the collection of genetic information and the use of gene therapy, there lies a key ethical concern when the conditions being studied are not explicitly diseases or life-threatening in manner, and it is the question concerning the nature of disability and difference to decide whether all disabilities are actually diseases in need of a cure (Cullen 279). Questions of privacy, information confidentiality, and proper safeguards for individuals concerning their future health care as volunteers involved in genetic research and studies also arise. “These questions confirm the necessity of limits on genetic research due to the possibility for the breach of these common ethical stipulations by overzealous scientists with no direct limitations set on their specific study,” this was clearly stated by the United States...
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