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Brian Petsche Suever Biology 101 11/20/08 Emulated Evolution: Enhancing our Species

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Recently, controversy has been stirred up by the notion that animal genes may soon be used in gene-splicing for gene therapy in humans. The notion of using animal genes in humans outrages many organizations, but when you look at any individual, nine times out of ten they are going to comply with whatever resolve is going to mean the difference between just a chance of survival and having much better odds. For example, the senator Jesse Helms, a conservative, consented to a pig heart valve transplant as opposed to a synthetic part, because the organic parts are said to work better (Syed, Par.1). If it will maintain your life, ethics are no longer an issue. Gene therapy is described as a means of treating disease by modifying a single organism’s genes to either correct the abnormal genes, or to introduce new genetic information which will supply the organism with a genetic ability to combat the disease or genetic disorder. Possible techniques of gene therapy include altering the on-and-off regulation of a gene; repairing an abnormal gene through selective reverse mutation, which restores the mutated gene to its normal function; homologous recombination, which entails the swapping out of a harmful gene for a beneficial one; or, the most common approach, the insertion

which when harvested will contain vaccines for diseases such as lymphoma. and cholera (Glenn. which is created by animal to animal transgenic combination (Glenn. lightweight bulletproof vests. will produce milk containing the protein used for creating the spider silk . raw organic materials are also in the works. This is achieved by incorporating human proteins into the foods. Biosteel is being created by taking the spider gene for silk proteins. 3). 2). 23). Par. Vaccines are being created by introducing human and animal proteins into foods such as bananas and potatoes. biotechnology companies estimate that the same product could be genetically engineered at about fifty dollars per pound (McDonagh. Not only would the medical community benefit from transgenic plants but these plants could also cause the food industry’s profits could skyrocket as well. One commonly created transgenic organism is plant life.Petsche 2 of a normal gene into the genome. which upon maturing. An example of this type of material is Biosteel. Aside from vaccines for disease and food products being created in such a manner. 4). and introducing it into a goats egg. and for creating very strong. This material has potential for use as better sutures for stitching wounds. Par. replacing a nonfunctional one ((Human Genome Project Information) Par. stronger automotive components. While naturally produced vanilla is estimated to cost roughly one-thousand two-hundred dollars per pound. Par. hepatitis B.

Par. which of course will be produced in much larger a quantity then any number of spiders could create. which was inserted with a jellyfish gene that the monkey is now a carrier for. In 2001. 1. that they have done the right thing with this experiment (Abate. this is believed to only be due to the monkey not producing enough protein to demonstrate the jellyfish’s trait (Abate. 10).Petsche 3 (Glenn. cell biologist Anthony Chan remarks that if his work speeds up the process of finding medicine for patients who need it. Par. Par. named ANDi. Par. the first patented transgenic animal has been created and is known as the Onco-Mouse. to develop treatment or possibly a cure. On the issue of genetic engineering leading to the discovery of medicine for patients. 5). although it does not glow as was intended. This is in relation to the speeding up of the process of developing medicine that Anthony Chan was referring to. This kind of genetically altered animal is said to be transgenic. this will allow for as many “guinea pig” mice as scientists require. 4). 10). Par. Presumably. 1). and are sometimes referred to by the term “chimera” (Glenn. In regard to the ethical controversy of cloning and gene-splicing in animals. Oregon researchers created the first genetically altered monkey. which was inserted with a human gene for mammary cancer (McDonagh. for that string of cancer. .

Par. Symptoms of the disease include seizures. Additionally. . students at the school of medicine proposed that perhaps the disease could be treated during the embryonic time of organ development (Science Daily. neurodegeneration of the brain. colorless hair. researchers have succeeded in correcting a genetic mutation in Zebra-fish embryos that causes Menkes disease. and Hemophilia. The fish treated by this method hatched and grew without any defects. through gene therapy (Science Daily. 11). and death. Par. a disease which also afflicts humans. to name a few (American Society. Major advancements have been made in patients with Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (ADA-SCID). Madsen. Because the mutation affects the brain and nerves very early in development. Par. Par. 4). Chronic Granulomatus Disorder (CGD). usually before the age of ten years old (Science Daily. Par 1-3). 6). 4).Petsche 4 At the Washington University School of Medicine in St. one of the researchers added “Up to twenty percent of genetic diseases are caused by splicing defects…so this treatment method could potentially be used for many other genetic diseases” (Science Daily. Par. and muscular dystrophy (American Society. There have been numerous advancements made in gene therapy research. 5. 2. 3. in regards to disease in humans. Louis.5). abnormal bone development. clinical trials will soon be beginning for people who suffer from congenital blindness. lysosomal storage disease.

which are coated with DNA that is laced into cationic polymers (University of Wisconsin-Madison. Parkinson’s disease. Par. The fact that gene therapy patients did not suffer any side effects from this procedure will almost definitely push for more serious biotechnology development. Earlier this year. 28. such as cancer.Petsche 5 Gene therapy is also being applied to acquired diseases. re-closing the artery. and when the . patients with Leber’s congenital amaurosis (LCA). Influenza. though only one of three of the patients had significantly improved vision following the procedure. which are similarly related to myeloid leukemia ((Human Genome Project Information) Par. 3). This aids in preventing muscle tissue from growing over the stent. 6. HIV. A more modern approach to gene therapy being looked at relies on the use of intravascular stents. none of them suffered any side effects whatsoever from the genetic alteration or operation ((UCL Media Relations) Par. were treated with gene therapy at the University College of London and. Hepatitis. heart disease and diabetes (American Society. Par. Other recent gene therapy advancements in humans include the reengineering of lymphocytes to attack the cancer cells in melanoma patients as a successful treatment in 2006 and two other adult patients were effectively treated for myeloid disorders. 7. 8). Huntington’s disease. a rare inherited eye disease which causes the eventual blindness of the afflicted person. 3). 29).

Animal to Human transgenic combinations provide for the possible growth of human tissue in or on animals. resulting in a longer lifespan and more attuned senses (Syed. healing them. and rate of human decay. which could be used for multiple medical applications.Petsche 6 polymers degrade. Some companies are already seeking to produce antibodies in the milk of cows which could be used as a consumable treatment for cancer and other autoimmune disorders (Glenn. 7). Par. 4). and even collagen tubes which would promote the repairing of damaged nerves (Glenn. This would be a definitive step towards putting genetically altered animal protein in humans. replacement cartilage. this technology may also be applied in efforts to increase the human capacities of perception. there is a possibility that we may transfer that animals’ corresponding genetic sequence in to that of human beings so that we may be provided with that same resistance (Par. 5). Par. Par. or artificial structures. In his article “The Threat of Human Genetic Engineering”. Syed makes the argument that if we were to discover a species of animal with resistance to any virus that is fatal to humans. At a UCLA . 6). intelligence. heart valves. David King offers up a bit of foresight and theory reflecting Syeds’ research. 3). Par. These include temporary skin for burns and wounds. the DNA becomes absorbed into the surrounding cells (University of Wisconsin – Madison. Additionally.

Par. the International Olympic Committee is concerned that athletes will use genetic engineering in order to have an edge on the competition (Glenn. biologist Lee Silver foretells of a future where the health. while King himself rebuttals that once we begin to design ourselves. 14). 14). Miller voices that it . James Watson proposed that not only could human genetic engineering be used for medical treatment. Par. give Syeds’ theory a very strong plausibility. not dissimilar from the use of steroids or even just altered equipment like corked bats in professional sports. 5). Par. Par. Many ethical issues do surround and serve to hold back the progression of genetic engineering. 4). appearance. but also for human enhancement (King. senses. Similarly. and the concepts brought forth by King’s research. James Watson would argue “If we could make better human beings by knowing how to add genes. and even lifespan of a child. personality. In regards to human enhancement.Petsche 7 symposium. it would create a very unfair advantage for athletes. Although such an edge is exactly the kind of human enhancement Syed seems to promote. Glenn’s research. Par.4). paired with the no-side-effects results of the University College London’s experimentation. why shouldn’t we do it?” (King. designed by parental choice and social norms (King. cognitive ability. The results of the ANDi experimentation. To this. In regard to ethical concerns. could all be genetically altered based on the whim of its parents (King. human beings will become more of an object then a natural organism.

“It [Gene Therapy] must be judged in the broader context of what people want and what society permits (Par. he is saying that if you don’t think gene therapy is a safe treatment for yourself. these are no different then the side effects of any other medical procedures (Par. 9). 8). Miller argues that although gene therapy does have many risks for the person undergoing treatment. and that side effects could range from the triggering of a tumor by means of accidentally inactivating a cancer suppressor gene (Par. . don’t be involved. the Food and Drug Administration. before gene therapy is even allowed to the public. but. it must be reviewed by many research institutions. and the National Institute of Health (Par. 5). Consider a boy whom in school is substantially shorter then the rest of his classmates or perhaps an individual that is suffering hair loss at an early age. regardless of the risks. 5) for confirmation of safety. Ultimately. 10)”. To quote Miller.Petsche 8 should largely be up to the individual to learn the risks and decide for him/her self whether or not gene therapy is a trivial matter or something worth going forward with (Par. it is not any person’s right to prevent any other informed individuals’ from wanting to better themselves. 5. to these individuals. Furthermore. however. Par. 6). therapy certainly is not a trivial issue (Miller. He elaborates that gene therapy does have unique risks in that any given procedure could possibly be irreversible.

it is proven that with cells and organs being used from animals to humans. which was ultimately . devastating the people of every country between (Par. Numerous bio-ethicists are requesting a flat out ban on any species altering technology. Par. 12). all being transmitted to humans through transgenic procedure (Glenn. McDonagh adds that while a car manufacturer can recall vehicles for repair. Par. scientists Jeremy Rifkin and Stuart Newman applied to patent a “Humanzee”. although they may not be as far fetched as they initially seem.Petsche 9 Another ethical issue brought forth regards the health of human population. Par. 8). unknown mutations that could pass through generations of people (King. In an attempt to raise awareness and spark debate on this issue of the potential abuse of genetic engineering technology. That is just a fatally stinging bee…hypothetically speaking. 10). Similarly. A large risk surrounding human genetic engineering is the possibility that the process will cause new. organic life cannot be taken back to be fixed in any practical manner. 28). and certain viruses. which was released into Brazil in the 50’s and has spread all the way to the United States. One such concern centers on the possible creation of a sub-human slave race that could be easily controlled and exploited (McDonagh. and a striking example of this lies in the African Killer Bee. there is the risk of fatal diseases such as mad cow disease. what if we were to accidentally create a dozen fatally breathing humans? Extreme ethical concerns have been voiced regarding ideas seemingly straight out of science fiction. encephalitis.

13). A common viewpoint is that this type of work is “an important step toward personalized medicine. which can tailor treatment to an individual’s genetic makeup” (Science Daily. sickle cell anemia. there isn’t an animal or person out there whose genes have adapted and are holding the right code that would serve as a cure for the estimated one hundred thousand afflicted persons in the United States alone (O’Farrell. 12). 13)? The question arises. should it be given the protection and rights of a human being (McDonagh. 10). 6). Par. Par. Furthermore. 5.Petsche 10 denied by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Two of the three projects funded include a Gene-Therapy cure for the disease. Par. on the grounds that it violated the thirteenth amendment. and what if it ended up with a higher IQ then the average human? Four months ago. the Children’s Hospital of Cincinnati received six-point-four million dollars for research towards a cure for the genetically acquired disease. would ethics really be . but look like a domestic animal or chimpanzee. Par. And if so. Par. how ethically different would such a creation really be from a person whom has been implanted with a pigs’ heart because he/she would not survive otherwise. which prohibits slavery (McDonagh. if such a being could speak and reason as a person. It would be absurd to think that with as old a disorder as sickle cell anemia. and genetically manipulating how the cells use salt in order to prevent cellular dehydration in order to improve the patients’ quality of life (O’Farrell. in July.

Petsche 11 an important factor in the decision to cure a hundred-thousand people? .

University College London.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/medicine/genetherapy. 20 Nov 2008 http://www.ornl.uk/media/library/Genetherapyblind . 29 July 2008.com. 20 Nov 2008 http://www.pdf "Results of world's first gene therapy for inherited blindness show sight improvement. "First Gene-Altered Monkey Hailed as Research Tool.asgt.ucl.ac.htm "Gene Therapy for Diseases.asgt.gov. 20 Nov 2008 http://www. 12 Jan 2001. 19 Sep 2008." mindfully.org/GE/Gene-Altered-Monkey-ANDi. American Society of Gene Therapy. 28 Apr 2008.energy. Human Genome Project. SF Chronicle.4 million for sickle cell. Tom.org/UserFiles/file/Children's%20gets%20$6_4%20million%20for %20sickle%20cell%20research%20_%20Cinci___.org/about_gene_therapy/diseases." UCL Media Relations. 20 Sep 2008 http://www. "Children's gets $6." American Society of Gene Therapy." Cincinnatti." genomics. Cincinnati enquirer.sh tml O'Farrell.mindfully. 2008. Peggy.php "Human Genome Project Information. 20 Nov 2008 http://www.Petsche 12 Works Cited Abate.org.

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