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Unformatted text preview: Ethical Issues in Genetics Ethical Dr. Leilani Brown Adapted from the University of Utah website on genetics and learning The Hot Topics The Genetic Engineering Stem Cell Research Cloning Gene Therapy Genetic Engineering Genetic How long do you think people have been manipulating the genes of the animals and plants in their environment? The zebra/donkey cross in the photo, for example, would never happen in normal life. Gene manipulation has been going on for ages, since the Neolithic! Domesticating Food Grains Domesticating The evidence for genetic research in antiquity can be seen in the origins of many of today’s grains. Wheat, for example, mysteriously appeared at precisely the same moment as the sudden explosion of agriculture in Armenia and Anatolia (modern Turkey) circa 8000 B.C.E.. At that time, wheat was only a wild grass, but as a result of not one but three “genetic accidents”— as conservative historians call them—the wild wheat grass was suddenly transformed into a highly nutritional domesticated source of food. Prehistoric Genetic Engineering Prehistoric To learn more about prehistoric genetic engineering, go to this link ­knowledge­series/Evidence­for­ Prehistoric­GeneticsWere­Our­ Domestic.htm A Time Frame of Gene Manipulations Manipulations Recent investigations have found the correlated time frames, locations and types of plant and animal manipulations to be very revealing. Here is a summary of the most important of these findings: *8000 B.C.E.—Turkey, Central Asia—wheat, barley, rye, flax, oats *8000 B.C.E.—Iran, Syria, Israel—chickpeas, lentils, figs, dates, grapes, lettuce, almonds, olives, carrots *7500 B.C.E.—South America—beans, squash, cassava *7000 B.C.E.—Southeast Asia, New Guinea—taro root, peas, mung beans, citrus fruits, bananas, coconuts, sugarcane *7000 B.C.E.—Syria—sheep, goats *7000 B.C.E.—China—rice, buckwheat, millet, soybeans, cabbage *6500 B.C.E.—India—cucumbers, eggplant, pigeon peas, Asian cotton *6500 B.C.E.—Turkey—pigs, cattle *6000 B.C.E.—Peru—corn, potatoes, peanuts, New World cotton *6000 B.C.E.—Central America—maize, squash, beans, lima beans, peppers, tomatoes *6000 B.C.E.—Africa—sorghum, cowpeas, yams, watermelon, okra What Do You Think? What Is it an ethical dilemma for you to choose what colors of plants you want in your garden, or to choose the kind of corn you want to eat? Have you ever purchased a purebred dog or cat? Do you like goldfish? They are genetically engineered too! Why Stem Cells are Unique Why Stem cells are distinguished from other cell types by two important characteristics. First, they are unspecialized cells capable of renewing themselves through cell division, sometimes after long periods of inactivity. Second, under certain physiologic or experimental conditions, they can be induced to become tissue­ or organ­specific cells with special functions. To learn more about stem cell therapy, go to this link Stem Cell Research Stem This link is a KQED video presentation on stem cell research in the Bay area of California. Stem cells are at the heart of ethical controversy because each cell has the potential to become an entire human being. Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues Ethical, There are several types of issues to consider as we think about stem cell research. Ethical issues are those that ask us to consider the potential moral outcomes of stem cell technologies. Legal issues require researchers and the public to help policymakers decide whether and how stem cell technologies should be regulated by the government. Social issues involve the impact of stem cell technologies on society as a whole. Some questions to ponder. The questions raised here have no clear right or wrong answer. Instead, your response will depend on your own set of values, as well as the opinions of those around you. Ethical Questions Ethical How far should researchers take stem cell technologies? Just because we can do something, should we? Why or why not? Should the government provide funding for embryonic stem cell research? Why or why not? Should there be laws to regulate stem cell research? If so, what would they look like? For example, how would you regulate research using different types of stem cells, such as embryonic, fetal or adult stem cells? What about embryonic stem cells created using cloning technologies? And more Questions And Do embryonic stem cells represent a human life? This is an ongoing debate that brings up the question of when life begins. Should the embryo or fetus have any rights in the matter? Who has the authority to decide? Should frozen embryos created through in vitro fertilization be used to create stem cells? Why or why not? Reproductive Cloning Reproductive When Dolly the sheep made her debut, it shook the world of science and ethics because she was the first cloned mammal. Plants have been cloned for many decades. Cloning Technology Cloning Reproductive cloning is a technology used to generate an animal that has the same nuclear DNA as another currently or previously existing animal. Dolly was created by reproductive cloning technology. In a process called "somatic cell nuclear transfer" (SCNT), scientists transfer genetic material from the nucleus of a donor adult cell to an egg whose nucleus, and thus its genetic material, has been removed. How Dolly was Created How Reprogramming Genes Reprogramming Dolly's success is truly remarkable because it proved that the genetic material from a specialized adult cell, such as an udder cell programmed to express only those genes needed by udder cells, could be reprogrammed to generate an entire new organism. Before Dolly was created, scientists believed that once a cell became specialized as a liver, heart, udder, bone, or any other type of cell, the change was permanent and other unneeded genes in the cell would become inactive. Problems with Cloning Problems Before everyone panics and visualizes a Star Wars type of cloning scenario, it should be said that this will probably never happen. Cloning is expensive, risky, and has many problems that are yet unsolved. Cloned mice have been shown to have defective genes, to die early, and to have health problems. GENE THERAPY GENE Genes are packages of tightly coiled DNA arranged on the chromosomes like strings of beads. The proximity of genes to each other influences when genes turn on and off. Gene therapy is a way of cutting and pasting a normal gene into the DNA of a person with a faulty gene. Gene therapy has the potential to treat diseases such as cystic fibrosis. Genetic Diseases Genetic Cystic Fibrosis is a chronic, frequently fatal, progressive, genetically inherited disease resulting from a single amino acid error on the gene. Delivering Genes and Putting Them in the Right Place in Viruses that don’t cause disease can be used to deliver a gene into the host DNA. Viral vectors are one method of gene therapy. The problem is telling the virus precisely where to put the new gene. If a new gene is placed too close to a cancer gene that is turned off, it can sometimes cause that gene to turn on. This problem is important to researchers and is at the heart of the ethical dilemma of gene therapy. Gene Therapy Gene Summary Summary The world of science and technology have made many incredible interventions possible in the world of genetics. While gene manipulation is not a new idea, the methods by which we can accomplish it now are more precise than ever before. Yet, the ethical and moral and legal issues are equally complex. There are no simple answers. To discover what you believe to be right is an individual pursuit. Summary contd Summary To become better informed, visit some of the websites in this presentation. There is much more to learn than the brief outline presented here. Good luck! ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2011 for the course FAMR 230 taught by Professor Brown,l during the Spring '08 term at University of Hawaii, Manoa.

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