PHIL2060/MOLS8002 BIOETHICS AND BIOTECHNOLOGY
Essay Questions for Essay Option 2
Worth: PHIL2060 – 30% / MOLS8002 – 25%
Word length: PHIL2060 – 1500 words maximum /MOLS8002 – 1800 words maximum
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1 ANSWER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:
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Successes in applying somatic gene therapy to primates afflicted with Parkinson’s disease offers hope that a treatment might also be on the horizon for other neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington disease. But while somatic therapy might be helpful in restoring partial or even full functioning to an affected individual, it does not solve the problem of the condition being passed on to future generations. Yet, this devastating disease could be controlled, and possibly eradicated, through germ-cell genetic therapy.
GeneSolutions, a Vancouver based commercial laboratory specializing in gene therapy, has succeeded in producing a vector (a modified adenovirus) that is able to go directly to chromosome 4 and reduce the number of CAG repeats associated with the disease (>38) to the normal compliment (<30). However, this therapy is designed for germ-cell treatment, either by pre-implantation (e.g., modification of cells in an early embryo) or by modifying sperm or ovum prior to IVF. GeneSolutions is confident that they have addressed all quality and safety concerns, and that they have a therapy that can help affected families plan for a future free of Huntington disease. Adapted from <http://genethics.ca/somatictherapy.html>
Question: Given its significant potential benefits, on what grounds might someone oppose the use of germ-cell therapy for this and other purposes? Explain their position, and evaluate it. Do you agree that somatic cell therapies are always to be preferred over germ-cell ones? Defend your answers.
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