Imagine being told that you have an incurable genetic disease and you will slowly die. There is no treatment to save your life, all you can pray for is a little bit of hope. Gene therapy is that hope that chance you may now have at surviving or living longer. Hi, my name is Grace and today I will be doing a TED talk on gene therapy and the positive and negative ways it influences Catholic Social Teachings. Gene therapy is an experimental technique that uses genes to treat and prevent genetic diseases. This technique is achieved by inserting healthy genes into missing or ineffective ones to stop the occurrence of a genetic disorder (National Library of Medicine, 2020).
Firstly, somatic gene therapy is a genetic treatment on people, whereas germline modifications are when the gene is applied to embryos, sperm, and eggs. This treatment can bring positive hope to people and change their perspectives about their illness. Gene modifications is a doorway to new discoveries. If successful it will improve many people’s lives affected by genetic disorders, and treat ‘untreatable’ diseases. However, this treatment is still in trial and is very time consuming as well as expensive (Connect US, 2020). Many people may get their hopes up, when this technique is not fully reliable (Connect Us, 2020), (School of Medicine, 2020). When participating in this treatment there are many life-threatening risks such as developing cancer, or deadly infection (Mayo Clinic, 2020).
Human Dignity is encouraging the goodness and beauty of a person regardless of their circumstances, their past, religion, or culture. Gene therapy promotes the teaching of the Dignity of the human person because it improves the quality of life for a person; a person can live longer; have a family; and reduce their pain. A young 7-year-old boy was admitted to a hospital with a rare genetic skin condition. The infection destroyed 80% of his skin, he became septic, doctors were sure he was going to die (Medical News Today, 2017). Scared parents didn’t give up, they found a team who said they could possibly regrow their childs skin, this brought so much hope and happiness to the parents. The doctors grew him new skin through genetic mutation correction. 21 months later the boy is playing soccer like any other kid. Many other kids with this skin condition cannot do this (Medical News Today, 2017). This child’s life has been improved largely, he will no longer live in pain and fear, but he will have a full life now, promoting human dignity. Therefore, this technology recognises the beauty and value of a person, by allowing them to live and fulfill an adventurous life.
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Furthermore, caring for the poor is everyone’s obligation. Better care should be given to marginalised and exposed people, whose needs should be put first. Gene therapy threatens the teaching of a preferential option for the poor because no one is immune from getting a genetic disease. The technology is a very expensive medical technique, as the treatment costs so much to do. Consequently, in the future this technology will still cost a lot of money to do, this is not a promoting option for poor people. The treatment costs from $375,000 and $875,000, definitely not an available option for the poor (Foundation for Economic Education, 2019). Especially when there is no full guarantee of survival (School of Medicine, 2020).
Overall, when assessing both the human dignity and preferential option for the poor aspects of this treatment, I don’t support the technology. Yes, gene therapy may and will help people manage their diseases, however, one day there will be another 7-year-old child who doesn’t have the miracle option of gene therapy to save their life because it is too expensive. Gene therapy can improve some people’s lives but not everyone’s. So why invest in something so expensive that will only result in helping a small number of people, while the others are left on the sideline.
As expressed, due to the high-priced treatment gene therapy threatens the teaching of a preferential option for the poor. This is because many people have incurable genetic diseases that don’t have the money to afford this. We must look out for everyone suffering!