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The Advantages and Disadvantages of Genetic Engineering in Humans



BY: Nidhi Uppangala | Category: Genetics | Submitted: 2010-06-09 21:15:50

Introduction:

Human body is made up of both good and bad genes. The genes which may cause some disease or some unwanted traits can be altered using a branch of biotechnology known as genetic engineering. Genetic engineering is a technique which can be used to manipulate our genes to make our bodies better. This change can be done in sperm or egg level, but this is illegal in most of the countries.

The other way is to change our bad genes with the good ones in somatic cells. Good genes are cloned into a viral vector, and then these vectors are passed into our body using gene gun method or other methods. Somatic cell genetic engineering is done in many countries.

Advantages of Genetic Engineering in Humans:

1. Genetic engineering has the capacity to make disease a history. Almost all humans are prone to one form of the disease or the other. This disease may be a result of inheritance of bad gene from parents. Other reason could be genetic mutations in the genome because of the environmental mutagens. These genetic mutations cause diseases like cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer's, or heart diseases and also these mutations can make human body susceptible for infections. All these mutations can be reversed using genetic engineering. If the researchers can find an efficient way to replace bad genes with the functioning copy of gene in the correct position.

2. Genetic engineering has the potential to increase the life span of humans. Some scientists say that the by using genetic engineering average life span of a human can range anywhere between 100-150 years. Here genetic engineering technique is used on a healthy individual to change his genome in such a way that it slowdowns the aging process. Altering the genes which are related to aging and cell senescence. For example preventing the shortening of telomere length of a chromosome. As telomere shortening plays an important role in cell senescence and aging.

3. Better understanding of genetics with the help of genetic engineering may lead to better pharmaceutical products which will have the ability

Disadvantages of Genetic Engineering in Humans:

1. At present since the genetic engineering uses the viral vector to carry functional gene into the human body, consequences of these viral genes on human body is still not known. Still we don't know the exactly where the functional genes are placed in the genome. Functional genes may replace the other important genes other than the mutated gene. This may lead to other form of disease or conditions in human.

2. If we all change the defective gene with the functional gene, genetic diversity will become thing of past. As we all humans will have the same genome, as a population we may become susceptible to an unknown form of disease or virus and it may lead to the extinction of human population from the earth.

Therefore we must use this new technique known as genetic engineering with lot of cautions as it has got both advantages and disadvantages to mankind.

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