for gene delivery but they either require large amounts of DNA require the

For gene delivery but they either require large

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for gene delivery, but they either require large amounts of DNA, require the creation of an artificial liposome to transport the therapeutic DNA, or require chemically linking the DNA to a molecule that will bind to special cell receptors. Re- searchers are also experimenting with the creation and introduction of a 47th artificial chromosome into target cells.
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Chapter 14 Genetic Engineering 197 Gene therapy is not without concern, however. If genes are to be replaced in the ovum or sperm, the replacement gene is passed on to the next generation . This can be beneficial or harmful. For ex- ample , two copies of the gene for sickle cell trait cause sickle cell disease. If you replace the two sickle cell genes with two normal genes, you also eliminate protection from malaria , which is provided by a single copy of the sickle cell. ETHICS CHECK With all the potential genetic research promises, ethical and legal dilemmas are raised. Some genetic tests do no more than tell persons that some day they will suffer from a dreadful and progressive disease. Genetic tests may force wrenching decisions to be made by parents who may choose to abort rather than give birth to a child carrying a gene for a lethal disease or a severe genetic defect. The questions in this arena that have not been addressed are "What is normal?" "What is a disability?" and "Who decides?" If genetic testing is done later in life and there is nothing to do to prevent or treat the disease, what has been accomplished? Is gene therapy performed in the adult cells of persons known to have a disease more or less ethical than gene therapy that se- lectively chooses the "healthiest" blastocyst and eliminates the unhealthy ones? Also, preliminary attempts at gene therapy are very expensive. Who is able to afford the expense? Who pays? e As research progresses in gene therapy , there is the potential to alter specific characteristics and appearance. At this point, technology conceivably moves from the genetic therapy for the correction of disease into social engineering for the creation of a "superior" human being. This is known as eugenics. Some are so fearful of this possibility that they believe all genetic research should be ended now. Others believe that the genetic age will create a society that is healthier and free from a number of debilitating illnesses. ~ Another question being debated is the use of patent rights to DNA. In fact, about 20% of ~ the human genome is patented by the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office. The U.S. Depart- ment of Health and Human Services currently holds a gene patent that makes the protein the hepatitis A virus uses to attach to cells. About one - half of the genes that affect cancer are patented. A private corporation has patented a gene that plays a key role in early spinal cord devel- opment . Governments, private individuals , corporations , and research institutes have rushed to patent particular genes in order to claim ownership for future use and research.
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