Debate Rounds (4)
No new technology has ever been developed without risk. When the Salk vaccine was created, many people were against it because of the risk that a small number of people would get polio. But now we are so grateful we have it, for it has saved so many lives and cases of polio are now very rare because of this vaccine that people didn't support at first. Many cancer medications also had a very high risk factor at first, and then they were developed further and proven to be very successful. There are always setbacks and successes, and people learn from these and are able to produce amazing life changing things because of it. Gene therapy may not be perfect yet, but it has the potential to change lives and families. It protects individuals from disease, it protects people who may not be born yet from disease, and it helps us further understand the way humans work.
Many people also have ethical concerns about gene therapy. Most of which have to do with God, or with discrimination. I already mentioned this, but many people believe that altering the genetic make up of someone is "playing god". They believe that we do not have the skill or the authority to change someone's genes, even if it does mean that their life would be drastically improved. Also, some people believe that gene therapy is a way of attempting to improve God's work. They believe that we need to be satisfied with what we were given, and not try and change ourselves. I can understand how this could be an issue for people with strong religious views, but I believe that giving someone a chance at a normal, healthy life is far more important than honoring God, and letting people suffer. Brandi Rocholl stated in his article that many people just don't fully understand gene therapy and how life changing it can be for so many people. "I think more people would be on board it they chose to educate themselves about gene therapy, and if they understood how life changing and amazing it can be for individuals and families." Another issue people have with gene therapy is discrimination. Some people think that people performing gene therapy are discriminating against people who have genetic disorders because they are trying to get rid of their condition. When in reality, they are trying to get rid of their condition to give them a chance at a better life.
Ethical issues can occur as well, like changing your skin tone. Messing with genetics can mess with natural human abilities like how tall you are, the color of your eyes, athletic ability. And the generation that follows wouldn"t have the choice to get this therapy rather than another kind of traditional therapy. Once you think about it, changing your genetics is like playing with a human"s looks and those think it is like playing God. If you were given a disease you should treat it with surgeries and move on, but if you attempt to erase the disease from your body, it"s like playing creator. Once you get genetic therapy, don"t think the rest of your family will be okay. Because of genetic therapy, there are developmental problems with kids. Gene therapy on somatic cells can cause issues with reproductive system of the baby . Transferring genes into a fertilized egg cell can start the theory of "designer babies" which let parents decide what kind of traits they want their kid to have which is also like playing God. This is unnecessary!
Remember Jesse Gelingser? Well, one kind of treatment is trying to make the immune system fight off the diseased cells, but that can be very problematic because the system can get over-worked and can cause bad reactions. Also, his liver was much too weak for the treatment he was given! If your disease is severe (which is usually the case if you"re getting gene therapy) then it is more dangerous if it wasn"t as severe. He had to take 32 pills a day, even though he was getting his genetics changed and mutated. Medication is already risky to take considering overdoses and how careful you must be in order to have them work successfully. If Jesse"s immune system was already trying to work with the genetics that have been changed, imagine the kind of struggle and reactions his body had to 32 kinds of medication and mutated cells. Your body cannot function and his immune system practically died. So did he 3 days after his treatment. Genetic therapy is way too dangerous at the moment to continue! We need to do more research in order to help people without large risks of death and other disorders or diseases.
The only way to cure a genetic dissorder is to replace the defective gene with a healthy copy. So gene therapy is the only hope for people with genetic disorders. Gene therapy also has a number of advatages over drug therapy. Drug therapy can only relieve symptoms. It cannot fix the problem. gtherapy.co also states that, "If gene therapy targets the reproductive cells of carriers of such genetic disorders as cystic fibrosis, Parkinson"s disease, or cancer, it is possible that any children the carrier goes on to have would be free of the defective gene and on a bigger scale the disease can be wiped out completely."
Gene therapy can diminish the number of people effected with fatal genetic diseases such as cancer, parkinson's disease, cystic fibrosis, etc. Gene therapy is also the only way to insure that a defective gene will not pass through generations. So why are people opposed to gene therapy? I think that giving someone a chance at a normal life and a cure for their disease is more important than ethical issues, and the risks that come with gene therapy. Brandi Rocholl states in his article about gene therapy that, "I believe the reason that these people are opposed to gene therapy is because they see it as something foreign and scary. The reason people are scared is because they do not understand the technique. I think if scientists educate our society, many people would change their minds."
As I meant to say in round 2 was, why do you think genetic therapy is better than traditional ways of healing? How many lives has genetic therapy actually saved? So far, surgeries have done well helping people lead a "normal life". And genetic therapy doesn't always rid the future family of disease or disorder. It can even cause birth defects and how "normal" is that? Wouldn't you rather just take original therapies like surgery and medication to treat your disease, or would you want to alter your genes with a low chance of it actually working? There are always people who are against certain research, or drugs, so how does this effect the study of gene therapy? After 54 years we should know what we are doing by now, without much risk at all!
I couldn't find the exact number of lives gene therapy has saved, but it has cured over 200 leukemia cases. And it has cured many genetic disorders. And no, I wouldn't rather take medications or have surgeries to cure my genetic disease, for if I had one, surgeries and medications wouldn't work! Again, gene therapy is the only thing that can cure genetic disorders. Surgeries and medications will not do anything but possibly ease symptoms, which will not help the problem. Surgery and medications cannot alter or replace defective genes. Also, medication and surgery also come with many risks as well!
You state that you think gene therapy could be useful in the future, but you also state that you don't think it should be used to cure anything today. First of all, I have shown examples of how gene therapy is beneficial today. Secondly, the only way gene therapy will become more useful in the future (as you think it could be) is if we use it today and learn to understand it better. It won't improve on it's own. Also, in the second round you say that there have been several deaths due to gene therapy. I am aware of several deaths, but the deaths weren't caused by gene therapy, they were caused be the patient already being to sick to help. You also say that sometimes people must take medications after gene therapy treatment that make them feel sick and drowsy, and that this is a disadvantage of gene therapy. But they would have to be on medications for their disorder anyway, even without gene therapy. You later than say that taking medications is preferable to gene therapy, so you would need to take them no matter what you choose to do, taking medications a disadvantage of having a disease, not of going through gene therapy. You also say that it is do expensive and richer people would abuse the benefits of gene therapy and use it for cosmetic purposes, and poor people wouldn't be able to pay for it. This has nothing to do with the disadvantages of gene therapy, it has to do with unequal distribution of wealth. It is irrelevant. In round two you also say, "Once you get genetic therapy, don"t think the rest of your family will be okay. Because of genetic therapy, there are developmental problems with their kids." This makes it seem like every person who has gone through with genetic therapy will now have developmental problems with their kids. When in reality, more cases turn out effective than not. It also sounds like gene therapy is the only thing that can cause developmental problems, which we both know isn't true. You also talk about ethical issues, such as "designer babies" and changing your looks. This is not because of gene therapy. This is because some people may have the chance to abuse the use of gene therapy, and there are ways we can prohibit this.
One thing that really confused me was when you said, "Society will have less exception to those with a disorder or disease." What exceptions are you talking about? I cannot comprehend why anyone would want to have these exceptions in society instead of being cured and having their disease gone.
You say gene therapy was developed in the 60's so it is new to us? It has been 54 years of failed attempts at diseases (other than your point of leukemia). You also say gene therapy is "the only hope for a genetic disorder." This is not true as depending on the disease or disorder there are other successful treatments they could do to help them. If we replace healthy cells into unhealthy cells how do you think their body will react? Badly that's how. If they are already sick they shouldn't be going through such a big process of changing genetics that will possibly make them worse. How many lives re scientists willing to handle just to research about gene therapy? You also said "to give them a chance at a normal life". Notice your word 'chance' considering what I have been saying about genetic therapy being unlikely to work. Also, if you do see results they only last about 1 week to 1 month! How many times are you wiling to try and change the traits you were born with to only have short lived results? Think of how many procedures and how much the cost would be that you would have to endure.
Do you have any other examples of a genetic disease that was cured other than leukemia? Because I keep seeing leukemia pop up and wonder if there were any others that have been saved. We should widen our horizon to more genetic disorders and diseases to heal. Unequal distribution of wealth doesn't have to do with genetic therapy, you are correct, but it exists and can cause harm to those who cannot afford it. That was my point. What do drugs have to do with genetic therapy other than the points I stated? You stated "drug therapy can only relieve symptoms". I stated that too many drugs were used in gene therapy for it to be safe.
Genetic therapy has been studied for 54 years and not many improvements have been made. People have died because of severe reactions to the modified cells. Even if there were improvements they only lasted a little while not completely ridding the patient of disease. Changing ones genetics should not be within our grasp considering they were born with certain traits and we don't have the authority to change them. Genetic therapy should not be used for there are too many risks involved in the treatment.
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