The Instigator
MasturDbtor
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
RationalMadman
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Mandatory In Utero Gene Therapy to Cure Disease

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/18/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,426 times Debate No: 25676
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (1)
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MasturDbtor

Pro

When we have the technology to go in utero gene therapy successfully and it is tested and safe then it would be unethical, immoral, and should be illegal for a parent to forgo curing their child of a disease they are about to be born with.
RationalMadman

Con

Mandatory: required by law or mandate; compulsory.[1]
In Utero Gene Therapy: Altering the DNA of a foetus while still developing in the uterus in order to give it a more desirable strand of DNA. (I worded this definition myself)
Disease: a disorder of structure or function in a human, animal, or plant, especially one that produces specific symptoms or that affects a specific location and is not simply a direct result of physical injury.[2]

Why must it be mandatory for the parent to cure the disease that their child is born with if the disease itself is a part of their DNA? What you are saying is that if a person is meant to be a certain way, we should 'improve them' but what really is improving a person? What if by changing some parts of DNA we are in fact changing the person altogether and somehow preventing a genius' brain from forming properly, sure they would get parkinson's but would do so many useful things before their short life ends. What you fail to realise is that if you change one part of a person's DNA, you change the entire code and down the line it could easily prevent another part from developing properly. This is not medication, this is not simply plant genetic modification this is dealing with the animal that is claimed to have the most complex brain in the animal kingdom, we still haven't even scratched on the surface of how DNA affects the mind, what if the next Da Vinci was cured of parkinson's but then had another part of DNA altered to prevent them from being talented at art. What you are saying is you assume science is ANYWHERE NEAR the stage whereby we know that if we alter one part of the DNA, the rest stays fine, but in utero gene therapy is nothing to do with this.

Scientific and ethical discussions about gene therapy began many years ago, but it was not until 1990 that the first approved human gene therapy clinical trial was initiated. This clinical trial was conducted on a rare autoimmune disorder called severe combined immune deficiency. This therapy was considered successful because it greatly improved the health and well-being of the few individuals who were treated during the trial. However, the success of the therapy was tentative, because along with the gene therapy the patients also continued receiving their traditional drug therapy. This made it difficult to determine the true effectiveness of the gene therapy on its own, as distinct from the effects of the more traditional therapy.

Measuring the success of treatment is just one challenge of gene therapy. Research is fraught with practical and ethical challenges. As with clinical trials for drugs, the purpose of human gene therapy clinical trials is to determine if the therapy is safe, what dose is effective, how the therapy should be administered, and if the therapy works. Diseases are chosen for research based on the severity of the disorder (the more severe the disorder, the more likely it is that it will be a good candidate for experimentation), the feasibility of treatment, and predicted success of treatment based on animal models. This sounds reasonable. However, imagine you or your child has a serious condition for which no other treatment is available. How objective would your decision be about participating in the research?

How do researchers determine which disorders or traits warrant gene therapy? Unfortunately, the distinction between gene therapy for disease genes and gene therapy to enhance desired traits, such as height or eye color, is not clear-cut. No one would argue that diseases that cause suffering, disability, and, potentially, death are good candidates for gene therapy. However, there is a fine line between what is considered a "disease" (such as the dwarfism disorder achondroplasia) and what is considered a "trait" in an otherwise healthy individual (such as short stature). Even though gene therapy for the correction of potentially socially unacceptable traits, or the enhancement of desirable ones, may improve the quality of life for an individual, some ethicists fear gene therapy for trait enhancement could negatively impact what society considers "normal" and thus promote increased discrimination toward those with the "undesirable" traits. As the function of many genes continue to be discovered, it may become increasingly difficult to define which gene traits are considered to be diseases versus those that should be classified as physical, mental, or psychological traits.

To date, acceptable gene therapy clinical trials involve somatic cell therapies using genes that cause diseases. However, many ethicists worry that, as the feasibility of germ line gene therapy improves and more genes causing different traits are discovered, there could be a "slippery slope" effect in regard to which genes are used in future gene therapy experiments. Specifically, it is feared that the acceptance of germ line gene therapy could lead to the acceptance of gene therapy for genetic enhancement. Public debate about the issues revolving around germ line gene therapy and gene therapy for trait enhancement must continue as science advances to fully appreciate the appropriateness of these newer therapies and to lead to ethical guidelines for advances in gene therapy research.

In the UK, permission to conduct gene therapy research has to be obtained from a Department of Health advisory body known as the Gene Therapy Advisory Committee (GTAC) in conjunction with the appropriate Local Research Ethics Committee and the Medicines Control Agency (MCA). Researchers are required to notify any adverse effects from their trials to all three of these bodies. GTAC operates six key principles when licensing gene therapy trials:

1. Gene therapy is research and not an innovative treatment because it has not yet been sufficiently developed.

2. Only somatic cell therapy should be considered.

3. In view of safety and ethical difficulties, germ line interventions are not allowed.

4. Gene therapy should be restricted to life-threatening disorders where no alternative effective treatments are available.

5. Patients should take part in gene therapy research trials only after a full explanation of the procedures, risks and benefits and after they have given their informed consent.

6. For those not able to give consent, including young children, the research must not put them at disproportionate risk. GTAC also considers that in utero gene therapy is not permissible

Just consider this.


Sources:
[1] http://oxforddictionaries.com...;
[2] http://oxforddictionaries.com...
[3] http://www.answers.com...
[4] http://www.twnside.org.sg...;
Debate Round No. 1
MasturDbtor

Pro

MasturDbtor forfeited this round.
RationalMadman

Con

Well then. Vote con.
Debate Round No. 2
MasturDbtor

Pro

Sorry internet went down at home. I'm currently using the campus' computer (campus is a ways away from home and I don't have a car).

1. "What you are saying is that if a person is meant to be a certain way, we should 'improve them' but what really is improving a person?"

My opponent is making the naturalistic fallacy, assuming that because something comes from nature it is "meant" to be that way. The same argument could be made against all medical intervention.

2. "What if by changing some parts of DNA we are in fact changing the person altogether and somehow preventing a genius' brain from forming properly, sure they would get parkinson's but would do so many useful things before their short life ends"

The individual's right to be free of disease and illness outweighs any right society has to their "many useful things".

3. "What you are saying is you assume science is ANYWHERE NEAR the stage whereby we know that if we alter one part of the DNA, the rest stays fine, but in utero gene therapy is nothing to do with this."

I have assumed nothing of the kind. Notice in Round 1 I specified (CAPS LOCK added for emphasis):
When we have the technology to go in utero gene therapy successfully and it is TESTED AND SAFE then it would be unethical, immoral, and should be illegal for a parent to forgo curing their child of a disease they are about to be born with.

I am not saying we do this now. I am saying we do this the moment it has been tested and is found safe through research trials like anything else within the practice of medicine.

4. "How do researchers determine which disorders or traits warrant gene therapy? Unfortunately, the distinction between gene therapy for disease genes and gene therapy to enhance desired traits, such as height or eye color, is not clear-cut."

No one is ever going to propose that one's eye color is a disease that needs to be cured. While there may be some "gray areas" that will need to be mulled over about whether or not it is a "disease" or merely a "condition" this is not a reason not to require parents to get gene therapy for those things that are real "disease".

"Gene therapy" will force a social conversation about creating consistently applicable guidelines for determining if a trait is merely a "variation" or a "disease". Dwarfism, at least variants that don't cause anything other than shorter stature might come under the "variation" category under such a scheme.

There is no reason to treat "gene therapy" any different than other medical treatments. Currently if a parent tries to deny their child treatment for a disease it is not allowed and the court orders the child be treated anyways. Some religions such as Jehovah's Witness have tried to get away with that for religious reasons but the courts didn't allow it.

However, take the example of parents that don't get cosmetic surgery for their Down's Syndrome child. These parents are not mandated to do that because it is not treating a disease, it is "treating" a "trait", one which is genetically related to a disease but which is not itself a disease (the disease being the physical and mental problems suffered by the patient which would not be alleviated by cosmetic surgery).
RationalMadman

Con

Why shoudl it be amandatory though?

I can understand fully advisable but why impede the righ tof a parent to allow their child to be who they should be not who society deems it acceptable to be. Einstein had autism and dyslexia, but he'd never have been the amazing man he was if he hadn't had them. you can't jsut say that because someone has a disease, they are better off without it, it's different when it's a part of who they are as opposed to pathogenic.
Debate Round No. 3
MasturDbtor

Pro

Con has dropped the point about "nature".

Con states "Einstein had autism and dyslexia, but he'd never have been the amazing man he was if he hadn't had them."

Wrong. By definition "autism" and "dyslexia" do not encompass what ever "benefits" might tend to go along with them.

Before using gene therapy it must be as I said "tested and safe" that process alone will show us how to preserve anything good and only get rid of the bad. Just because some genes tend to go together doesn't mean that they must, especially if we can alter them in the womb.
RationalMadman

Con

The issue I have is that my opponent has this idea that we can tell a person who they are meant to be and what their DNA should be coded as before they even had a chance to prove that in their short life (due to the disease) they would be so driven and focused to achieve what normal humans could not. It is like taking the madness out of Einstein, the fat out of Winston Churchill, the cockiness and shortness out of Napoleon Bonaparte (who shaped the entire Europe to make it as lovely as it is today) and the thing which makes any person feel disadvantaged out of them, for the sake of making a 'perfect' society where everyone is the same and anyone whose DNA doesn't match that of the norm's MUST BE 'CORRECTED'. This sounds like a Neo-Nazi regime to make a new race of humans where we have designer babies, everyone has the same IQ, same skills and same rate of growth... Well if everyone is built to be a physics genius who will pave our roads?! Who will make our music?! Who will make the movies?! You can't just say to change the DNA of someone because YOU seem to think it's WRONG for them to be their true form of genes.

Don't play god, there will always be a devil. (I made this saying up but if you think about it, it's actually true)
Debate Round No. 4
MasturDbtor

Pro

My opponent would have poor infants born with Tay Sachs suffer and die because their parents felt like "letting things be the way they were 'meant to be' ". He would allow parents to let their children be born with serious diseases like hemophilia, and cystic fibrosis even if a cure is possible before birth.

He then goes out of his way to exaggerate and say that what I want is for everyone to be "perfect" when all I said was that parents should have to use gene therapy to cure "disease". I said nothing about "designer babies" or about everyone having the same IQ, skills, and rate of growth, just curing "disease".

Although I do not recommend making things "perfect" his line of argumentation "Well if everyone is built to be a physics genius who will pave our roads?!" why is it not conceivable that everyone could simply be born "flexible", able to become a physics genius or a road-making genius or any kind of genius that person wants just as long as they are directed in that direction. Why must it be "Fixed at birth"? Wouldn't it be better for the environment to determine it because that gives the individual more autonomy and direction if they are given a nurturing environment?
RationalMadman

Con

I don't think that we have the same understanding of what mandatory in utero gene therapy entails. You are speaking of EXTREME genetic disorders only, whereby it would be natural for a parent to want their child to have a greater life quality and thus would cure them. What I am speaking of is the cases of perhaps their child having a 'mental' 'disease' or any disorder of structure or function in a human, animal, or plant, especially one that produces specific symptoms or that affects a specific location (as I defined disease in round 1). I was suggesting that perhaps we should not make it mandatory to alter any 'disorder' such as Asperger's Syndrome (Mozart showed severe signs of this) a milder form of Autism (which Albert Einstein showed severe signs of), ADHD (many stuntmen and sportsmen are diagnosed with this), dyslexia (which both Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill showed severe signs of) Down's Syndrome (successful actors have had down's syndrome). I'm just saying that not EVERY disorder or 'genetic defect', which match up to my definition of disease, should be made mandatory for a parent to supposedly 'cure' when in fact they are prohibiting the real person to be born.
Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by RationalMadman 4 years ago
RationalMadman
Sorry for font change, was unexpected.
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