The Instigator
david211
Con (against)
Tied
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The Contender
Alcaeus
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points

Gene Therapy (Use)

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/9/2014 Category: Science
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 862 times Debate No: 52055
Debate Rounds (5)
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david211

Con

Being a relatively new area in medical research, the current knowledge of gene therapy is not enough to consider it safe and effective. There have been many nightmare cases in which gene therapy created new symptoms and ultimately resulted in the death of people. Some cancers and disorders are just not able to be cured through this. Although short term, drug therapy is a tried and tested method and therefore is deemed safer. The way gene therapy works is that a virus with the correct and non-defective genes is injected into this person (1). This in itself is a major problem. The virus, in many cases, would be rejected by the body because it would be detected as a foreign body. Once rejected, the body will fight it off more aggressive next time and all of the times after that. This calls in to question the true effectiveness of gene therapy. Another alternative and rarely used type of gene therapy is using naked DNA. Not only could it be attacked, but its ability to rapidly divide uncontrollably would cause more problems then without it. There was a story about a boy named Jesse Gelinger. He suffered from a rare metabolic disorder called OTC, or ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency. He had to take 32 drugs daily for this disorder. He felt miserable until he heard about this "cure-all" gene therapy. He was quoted as telling his friend, "What's the worst that could happen?" after he had decided to undergo gene therapy. Indeed, the worst did happen. He went through an extreme inflammatory reaction in response to the vectors he received, and developed jaundice and a blood-clotting disorder, eventually leading kidney, lungs, and brain lose function. (2) All in all, gene therapy is not the completely safe and effective "cure -all" procedure that it is twisted to be.

(1)http://www.gtherapy.co.uk...
(2) http://www.gene.ch...
Alcaeus

Pro

Gene therapy is the only way to completely cure a genetic disorder. gtherapy.co.uk states that "The most important factor in the development o gene therapy is the fact that, for genetic disorders, there is only one way to cure the disease - replacing the defective gene with a healthy copy - and therefore gene therapy is the only hope of finding cures for such disorders." Also, from ndsu.edu, I got that gene therapy done in the germ-line of the body will treat both the patient and his/her reproductive cells, causing any offspring the patient has to have no chance of the disease. This can cause massive reductions in the number of people that have the disease, possibly even eradicating it if enough people are treated. This would be a major benefit for people with hemophilia or other serious genetic disorders. Why would people want to have this technology taken away when it could provide countless resolutions to previously incurable diseases? Finally, gene therapy is the way to have a complete cure. Alternatives such as protein therapy do provide the same result, but not with the completeness and absoluteness of gene therapy. Protein therapy involves directly inputting a correct form of the malfunctioning protein into the cells, causing the disorder to subside, but the proteins do eventually have to be replaced, causing the patient to have to have a routine of getting protein injections, whereas gene therapy is a one time thing that can even erase the disorder from a patient's future gene pool. This information was gathered from nanowerk.com.
gtherapy.co.uk/pros-and-cons
ndsu.edu/pubweb/~mcclean/plsc431/student98/fleck.htm
nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=14262.php
Debate Round No. 1
david211

Con

The statement that you made about germ-line and eradicating the disease brings up a big ethical implication. If it is affecting all of the offspring, doesn't that mean that the un-born children will not have a say in the matter? Are they also able to give consent to treatment in this case? You may say that it is the parents choice, but what about the children's children and their children's children? Did they give consent? The answer is no. Although it may have cured their line, they did not give consent and therefore this treatment would be a big ethical issue.
Another thing I see in your statements is that gene therapy would be," the only hope of finding cures for such disorders." Who decides which traits are normal or which constitutes a disability or disorder? If gene therapy was used commonly, wouldn't it then make society less accepting of people who are different? Who is to say that everyone needs to fit the "cookie-cutter" mold and be the "perfect" or "ideal" human being? Diseases and disorders are the things that make all people unique, and without them, it would be a bland world without diversity. Saying that these disorders or diseases need to be cured is a statement that reflects the current state and views of today's society, not accepting the different.

(ghr.nlm.nih.gov)
Alcaeus

Pro

You say that gene therapy in the germ line would be unethical. Your saying that it would be wrong to reduce the amount of people with disorders such as hemophilia or tay sachs disease? Find someone who will say that they would be happy to have their child born with one of these diseases and I will concede. The child may not consent, but it isn't exactly a real child is it? Sperm and egg cells only have one copy of each chromosome, and isn't a fully functional living cell. If the cell is not alive, would it have the right of consent? Dead bodies used in science are not given the option of consent, and the sperm that is killed by men using condoms with spermicide inside, which is in most condoms, also do not give the option of consent to the non-living. People do what they think is best for others, and the option of gene therapy is that, an option. Abortions are carried out at the least when the embryo is 10 weeks old. At this point it now has a heart beat and by many is considered alive. Gene therapy only can effect the person who accepted the treatment and the non-living half copies inside of it. People make many decisions that affect their unborn children, and not all of them are beneficial. Gene therapy is beneficial, and so it would not be a hard addition to the procedure list.
Debate Round No. 2
david211

Con

Most of the time, the chance that people will be born with a disease of that matter is less than 50%. You may say that this is still a high risk, but do people still fight in the war or climb mountains knowing that there is still a risk? The same applies to this. People have children knowing in the back of their mind that there is always going to be a risk.
The argument that you bring up about how the cells are not "living" yet is still a controversial issue. Who determines when a cell is living or nonliving? The current state of this statement is undetermined. Gene therapy is based largely on the "risk to reward ratio." Are the risks involved small enough to warrant people to go through with it? The answer is no. Although with time, like everything, gene therapy may get better and more reliable, but right now it is not worth the risks. Based on your previous statements, is it safe to say that you would like a disease free world? This appears to be your intentions with your statements, but have we really thought about the unknown world and the things in it around us? If everybody is disease and sickness free due to the alteration of their genes, what would happen if a disease or sickness unknown to man were to overtake everyone? Since everyone doesn't have to worry about sickness, their body's tolerance is low, so a single case of an unknown disease could possibly wipe out the whole human race in this case, or at least a huge fraction. Although a disease free world seems ideal with the help of gene therapy, it would not work.
Alcaeus

Pro

You say that gene therapy is not worth the risks now but will get batter with time. How can it get better without people running trials on it? It cannot. Remember that what is now considered one of the safest routes to a cure started with over the counter cocaine and heroine. Drug treatment started by miracle "cure-alls" circulated by mobile salesmen. These drugs were unperscribed, did not have a recommended dosage on the bottle, and were not under any restrictions as to the concentration or volume of drug contained. What first started as a substance as common as today's cough syrup is now a highly illegal substance. My point is yes, the begginings of things may be risky, but over time saftey is increased. Also, you state that I want a world with no disease and the consequenses of such a world. You provide some very well founded points, but they are not all correct. Gene therapy can be used to improve the human immune system, and long periods of no disease does not weaken the immune system. When the body is constantly under the stress of fighting off disease, it is worn down and made easier to infect. The immune system can build the antibodies to fight off disease, but those antibodies are only effective for that specific strain. If humans could be made to build the antibodies without having to first encounter it, this would essentially eradicate that disease. If a new disease were to come, vaccines and a cure would be created and distributed as they are today. Gene therapy could make people immune to the AIDS virus, and even cure the ones who currently have it. In using gene therapy, people can expand opon their own options of how they want to be. They have a new freedom. All people want freedom, and the freedom to choose what diseases you arevunerable to or what hair color natually grows on your head is quite simply an amazing opportunity and an inevitable advancement.
Debate Round No. 3
david211

Con

My statements were directed more to the fact that you can't always control environmental factors or unknown diseases. If a disease came from something that was not something we had encountered before, such as a mutation from man made chemicals or a new disease from atmospheric chemicals. The statements that you bring up about how gene therapy can help people is based widely what the media portrays gene therapy as. Everyone sees all of the positive journals in which case the procedure was successful, but what about all of the unsuccessful ones, or ones that resulted in a death? Many patients see gene therapy as a "cure-all" procedure, but are not aware of the risks and ethical implications. The data and point of views change based on who wrote the journals and who they worked for. There have been many cases of people being paid to produce bias data in order to help one side. An ethical implication comes up when you say that everyone should have the freedom to choose what diseases that they are vulnerable to or what hair grows on their head. When you think about it, should we really be playing "God" in any case? If everyone had access to gene therapy, it would ultimately to the demise of the human race. If gene therapy was cheap and more effective, and everybody used it to make themselves better, faster, smarter, and stronger,, wouldn't this lead to an increase to things such as crime rates? If people are as smart as they can be, what will this do to our securities? It will make them obsolete and at a high risk to be compromised. Gene therapy seems like good idea in theory, but in reality, it has many unforeseen complications

biomed4all.com
learn.genetics.utah.edu
Alcaeus

Pro

Patients have ended the gene therapy procedure with unforeseen outcomes, yes, but this is another example of my previous argument about how in the beginning trails do not always work how they should have. People may come out on bottom, but they did make an informed decision on whether or not they would accept the gene therapy. The procedure is not forced, it is something that patients would have to ask to have performed, and before the doctor would conduct the operation, the patient would be informed about all possible outcomes. In this way, treatments such as gene therapy are much like skydiving or deep sea diving; most get that which they want but know that some have not and they could be one of the unlucky ones. Data can be made to say what the scientist wants, but with enough trails and enough tests the true facts will show through. Also, about what you said in regards to the everyday access to gene therapy being the demise of the human race, I highly doubt a process as powerful as this would go unregulated in today's world. People cannot be made to naturally be "smarter", only able to take in and process information quicker. This would only lead to people being as smart as what the schools they attend can make them, and crime rates could actually go down due to officers having a full education, whereas one in every ten high school dropouts is in jail or juvenile detention on any given day. These criminals are for the most part not nearly as smart as the police force combined with the technology they operate. Security would not be as much of an issue as you say it is; the people who design the programs the protect may also have had enhanced intelligence genes. Some people already have the minds and bodies that gene therapy would give them, as all the process is is the selection of certain alleles of a gene for people. This would not be playing "God" as you state but only doing the best with what we have. A limit that regulatory agencies could place to prevent people from calling it a hack of nature would be to restrict the process to only diseases and not cosmetics. This would bring up the discussion of "What is a disease and what is not?" I would say that any disease that would get through to be used in gene therapy would have to alter the patients lifestyle to a point that it would not be considered normal by a majority of people. In doing this, people still retain their diversity and the world will just be rid of the really bad diseases.
Debate Round No. 4
david211

Con

In reference to your statement that you made that," I highly doubt a process as powerful as this would go unregulated in today's world," wouldn't you agree that drugs are very powerful in this world? If so, aren't illegal drugs still widely used and abused regardless of the regulations? So it would not be far fetched to say that gene therapy may be regulated, but would still be abused. Also, what is to be considered "normal"?
I have noticed that a big issue has failed to be brought up, and this is financial implications. A recently released Hemophilia B gene therapy procedure costs an excess of $300,000 a year, leading to over $20 million a lifetime (1). How would anybody be able to use these procedures unless they were very wealthy. Also, if the wealthy are the only ones with access to this procedure, it will create a bigger separation between economic and social status. The wealthy would be able to enhance all of their basic traits, leading to a take over of the rich. This world is survival of the fittest, and in this case, the wealthy could be disease or sickness free versus the poor, who wouldn't have access to this procedure at all. Only the rich would survive creating an extreme separation between classes. With potential risks and a very high price, is gene therapy really worth it? Sure it may do all of these things, but in reality, how effective would it be if only the wealthy have access to it? The high price makes it so that normal everyday people wouldn't have access to it. You previously said that gene therapy could rid the world of disease, but at what cost? If we were to try to eradicate diseases, sicknesses, and disorders from everybody in the world, how would we come up with the money? That would mean $300,000 a year for some people who can barely pay for their bills and food, let alone their children! Gene therapy may seem like a good idea for some, but due to the sheer price of it, it is not effective, as the number of people with access to it is very little.

(1) http://www.nytimes.com...
Alcaeus

Pro

I read the article you sourced your information off of. The lifetime cost of the treatment is due to the patients losing the cells that are treated with the gene therapy and monitoring costs for the patient. If the technology were to advance, the viruses could be directed to target the stem cells of certain organs, discarding the need to re-inject treatment into the patient after an amount of time. This would reduce the cost of the procedure and allow lower class people to have access to it. About the split gene therapy could create between the rich and the poor, many current procedures already cause this. Low class people cannot afford treatment for cancer, whereas upper class can; rich people can pay for expensive surgeries, both life saving and cosmetic, that poor cannot. The price may drive some away from it, but in a world of natural selection, the rich will live on anyway, while the poor will die. This is the ugly truth, and so measurements should be taken based off of this. As for the abuse, yes it can happen, but there is abuse in everything, and law enforcement was founded to take care of things like this.
Debate Round No. 5
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