Gene therapy is aimed at the correction of genetic failures by planting healthy DNA particles into disordered cells (Niidome & Huang, 2002). Geneticists have made their goal to locate and replace the disordered genes with healthy ones – and reach the goal using viruses that transfer the genes into cells. Genetic therapy can be subdivided into two types. The germinal therapy affects not only the patients themselves, but their potential offspring as well; it is deployed in lab conditions, as yet. Somatic therapy uses only those cells whose chromosomes are not hereditary, thus affecting the patient only. It is widely used and so far has been a success in curbing genetic failures – the fact that speaks for itself in the ethical battle evolving around the subject.
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Technological issues can be fixed first-handedly, while the ethical nature of such treatment is still questionable. Historically, genetic disorders have created inequality that has nevertheless been treated as a givenness. With the development of this therapy, the collective subconscious started to wonder over the ethical stance of gene modification. Ethical arguments against this kind of therapy mainly feature the unsafety, the godlessness of such interference, and the “slippery slope” issue (Wirth, Parker, & Ylä-Herttuala, 2013).
The dangerousness has always been the main argument against every piece of new technology introduced; the “godlessness” refers to geneticists interfering in god’s providence, and the “slippery slope” issue is concerned with the possibility of genocide and cleansing of the human race (Wirth et al., 2013). However, we can be certain that the potential danger of the gene practices can be – and actually is – regulated; also, the Church does not object against the deployment of such techniques, and the “slippery slope” issue remains purely rhetorical since the goals of gene therapy go as far as eradicating cancer.
Ever since the Asilomar Conference in 1975, the public has been worried about the safety of the whole rDNA enterprise. However, the researches conducted long after the Conference has shown that the rDNA is entirely safe – partially because of the regulations applied to the technology. The regulations were among the outcomes and implications of the Asilomar and are believed to be outdated, by some (Wirth et al., 2013).
In addition, the Catholic Church seems so make steps towards the acceptance of gene therapy and its usage. The Church has turned to the actual facts of life that we live and supposed that the genetic therapeutic practices are an act of providence, not a violation of it (Chapman & Frankel, 2003). Although the germinal therapy is still being researched in vitro, the acceptance is likely to spread on this one, too.
As to the “slippery slope” argument, the eventual unification of medicine is rather believable, albeit obsolete. At any rate, there is a general perception of gene therapy as a modern branch of medicine that has learned from the experience of previous generations and will hardly ever deploy the Nazi principles. Besides, geneticists are moving towards eliminating cancer – which can hardly be regarded as a genocide-oriented practice (Launis, 2002).
Thus, at least somatic therapy is nowadays regarded as being publicly acceptable. Overall, gene therapy is successfully working for the sake of universal good and is simultaneously safe, non-contradictory to religion, and hardly genocidal. The acceptance of germinal therapy can be regarded as the next step, with gene correction – not the gene purge – as its ultimate aim on the way to healthier humanity.
Chapman, A. R., & Frankel, M. S. (2003). Designing Our Descendants: The Promises and Perils of Genetic Modifications. Baltimore, MD: JHU Press. Web.
Launis, V. (2002). Human gene therapy and the slippery slope argument. Medicine, Health Care, and Philosophy, 5(2), 169-179. Web.
Niidome, T., & Huang, L. (2002). Gene Therapy Progress and Prospects: Nonviral vectors. Gene Therapy, 9, 1647-1652. Web.
Wirth, T., Parker, N., & Ylä-Herttuala, S. (2013). History of gene therapy. Gene, 525(2), 162-169. Web.