No pain, no gain
Like anything new to medicine, there is always a danger present, but if we never try new things and just fear the consequences we won’t get anywhere. Gene therapy should be allowed because it could be like a miracle. It has the capabilities to cure diseases and disorders that doctors and scientists have been stuck on for years. It even has the potential to cure cancer by replacing cancerous genes with healthy new ones. Gene therapy to some could be the most important medical breakthroughs in a long time and can revolutionise medical practices. Its field has much potential and to reduce risks and possible loss of life, animal testing is also an option.

Another benefit of gene therapy is the possibility to choose the traits which children inhabit from their parents.  Parents with disorders which they have or have background of can get rid of the chance for it to be inherited by their children. This will also help prevent birth defects. With the power to determine traits for future generations and fix any issues before they are born, less people are likely to look to abortions if their child isn’t normal to a point where they cannot bear it.

Other reasons gene therapy should become more widely used as a practice is because it can stop suffering. An example for this is in old age, developing arthritis and other problems which make life harder to live are almost unavoidable, but with gene therapy these could be ridded of altogether. This means more pleasurable years and possibly a lengthier life. Gene therapy can also cure diseases which inhibit people from living normal lives such as diabetes, reactions to allergies, haemophilia and much more.

Somatic gene therapy can also be used over germ-line gene therapy for people who have concerns over ruining family lines because it only affects the patient and is of his or her own free will. Test subjects can be volunteers or people close to death where this could be their only chance at living so there is less debates about its risks and danger. Even though there has been negative feedback on it, there have been proven successes in the development of gene therapy such as in 1990 where it was used on a for year old girl in the United States who had a genetic defect that left her with an Immune System deficiency. The effects were only temporary, but successful. Her name was Ashanti DeSilva.


What isn’t to fret about with Gene therapy? There are several problems with its practice ethically and in regards to safety. Let’s look at ethics first, because it seems to be the main issue revolving around this medical cure. In the views of some, gene therapy of any form is like cheating god or in less religious terms, our individuality. If gene therapy (germ-cell therapy) is executed on somebody, their DNA is forever changed and their family lines pedigree is no longer existent. It changes the natural cycle of how the offspring from the patient develop. In ways this is unfair. Future generations never had a choice and if the therapy is beneficial to talent or skill of offspring, why should one person’s kid be more advantaged than others?

Some other concerns for gene therapy are in the fact that it may easily create a perfect race, which has some fearing events similar to that of the holocaust.  This is in terms of Eugenics. Eugenics is simply selective breeding in a way to propose human improvement, but also can be ‘encouraging’ or ‘permitting’ reproduction of ONLY those types of people which specific characteristics within their genetics.

Another main concern with gene therapy and probably one of the most obvious would be its danger. If a person’s body rejects the DNA which basically is a foreign object in your body, serious issues may occur when their immune system is provoked. Some subjects have resulted in death or become greatly injured in the process. This is because their bodies found the treatment to strong to counter. Two subjects are also known to have developed Leukaemia after going through gene therapy treatment which is the exact opposite of what they would have hoped for. Jesse Gelsinger is a patient known to have died from gene therapy at the young age of 18. He suffered from ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency, an X linked genetic disease which affects the liver where his body could not metabolize ammonia. A vector carrying a corrected gene was injected into him but he died four days later. The scientists involved in the trial broke many rules of conduct in the process.  

This leads to another reason why gene therapy is not a good idea. Patients are not well enough educated about the practice to give proper consent and since gene therapy is quite new, scientists don’t always inform test subjects of the risks and past test results on humans or animals.  Other risks include: problems with viral vectors where toxicity, immune and inflammatory responses, and gene control and targeting issues are present, short lived nature of gene therapy meaning patients will need to be retreated constantly and chances of creating a tumor if the DNA is placed on the wrong area of a genome. Multi-gene disorders which have combined effects of variations in many genes such as heart disease are much harder to treat than single gene mutations rendering multi-gene disorders to have a higher risk.