Gene therapy is a technique used by doctors to prevent and treat illnesses and diseases by inserting a gene into a patients cell, (Mayo Clinic, 2019). It is a more advanced form of biotechnology, which involves modifying and developing genetically living organisms to improve the overall quality of life for humans, (Khan Academy, 2019). Modern biotechnology advances technologies and products to provide for the food for the hungry, help fight the war on the rare and unbearable diseases, cut down on the carbon emissions entering the atmosphere by using cleaner energy, (Springer Netherlands, 2016). Specifically, gene therapy has allowed scientists and specialised doctors not only treat serious medical needs but also prevent them from occurring in patients. Gene therapy needs to be legalised in countries over the world, especially Australia.
Asides from cardiovascular diseases, the second leading cause of death worldwide is infectious diseases, (Samanada Dorger, 2019). Gene therapy would be extremely beneficially in today’s society. There are many ways that gene therapy can dramatically help sick patients. An example of this is replacing the mutated genes, as some cells become incapable to work correctly, replacing these defective genes help treat particular disease. For instance, a gene called p53 is linked to many problems linked with cancer, if doctors could replace this gene, it could save many lives, (Mayo Clinic, 2019). Another reason why gene therapy is extremely important socially is because it can fixed mutated genes. These modified genes that cause diseases can be destroyed so they can no longer carry the disease, (Mayo Clinic, 2019). Finally, gene therapy also helps with a patient’s immune system. In some instances, people’s immune systems do not attack contaminated cells because it does not recognise them as a threat. By using gene therapy, researches can train peoples immune systems to recognise cells that are not good for the body. These are three extremely good ways to prevent disease and illness in people. By using gene therapy, it not only allows more people to live but betters their immune system, preventing any more diseases.
Gene therapy would not only save millions of lives, it would create millions of jobs. Biotechnology is a huge industry that creates a significant amount of money and job opportunities. In America, 1.42 million residents are already in well payed jobs, with it seen to rise 4.5 times as much in the next four years, (Trade Dev, 2019).
The same technology that is used to extend the lives of humans could be the very technology that is to end the lives of humans. The world has been faced with some devastating outbreaks of diseases, such as the recent contagious virus of Ebola to the decade old infectious plague. These epidemics came into contact with humans by chance and were completely natural. However, diseases such as botulism and anthrax are both two common infections that terrorists try to get their hands on. Bioweapon is a term used to describe when a person, typically a terrorist, develop and release an infectious disease or poison into a community or country. Unlike a weapon, such as a gun or a bomb, bioweapons are hard to detect and even harder to stop. Governments across the world take it as a serious issue. There has been serval instances of biological weapon use that have been recorded. One in particular is the 2001 anthrax terror. Letters containing anthrax-laden were sent to politicians in the United States of America, killing five people and hospitalising twenty-two. This caused billions of dollars in clean up, decontamination and investigation costs, (Tom Mihalek, 2011).
However, as researchers and scientists advance, they will eventually have the tools to combat the new man made outbreaks within in days. Five months after the Zika virus turned into a public health emergency, researchers found a cure to prevent it from spreading, (Merriam Webster, 2019). Five months is not a long time to prevent a disease, imagine how scientists being able to cure a disease in days.
Even though humans have been using biotechnology for centuries in animals and plants, we are only just beginning to make changes to our own bodies with gene therapy. The fear in many is where is the line drawn? When is it enough? Most scientists would only perform gene therapy procedures to improve the health of humans such as removing a mutated gene. However, some biologists want to take it one-step further and manipulate the basics of biology. These researchers want to undergo practices of human cloning. This comes with great risk, that far out way the risk of gene therapy. This is because the DNA and proteins in a human body are altered to allow those practices to occur. By allowing human cloning would not only create new illnesses in people but it could also made people die. Human cloning will hinder the future of every human being and this is why gene therapy is the better and safer option.
However, gene therapy does have some potential risks and these are the reasons why it is only used as a clinical trial and is not used in hospitals yet. In some cases gene therapy can cause organ failure, when the new viruses come into the immune system, it attacks them as it thinks they are bad for the body. Another reason is because when the virus enters the immune system, it can come into contact with the healthy cells, not just the mutated genes. This can damage the healthy cells and could even cause other diseases.