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Saturday, January 22, 2022

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Genetic advancement is not new to the human race, it just looks like it


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Science and ethics have a particularly contentious history, especially within the field of genetics. Genetic advancements are ethical and should be allowed to occur to enhance our society. 

Genetic advancements have made notable strides toward the treatment of diseases. Genetic engineering is when the genetic makeup of an organism is altered by inserting, deleting or changing specific pieces of DNA.  

This can be an undeniable asset when it comes to treating diseases like Huntington’s disease, ALS and cystic fibrosis. As Stephen Hawking said, “With genetic engineering we will be able to increase the complexity of our DNA and improve the human race.”

A second way in which the field of genetics can be beneficial is with genetic testing. According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, genetic testing covers an array of techniques including analysis of human DNA, RNA or protein.

Genetic tests are used as a health care tool to detect gene variants associated with a specific disease or condition, as well as for non-clinical uses, such as paternity testing and forensics.

To find out if an individual is in danger of a genetic disorder or a genetic illness, genetic testing must take place. Genetic testing can also be used to screen for genetic defects in fetuses and newborns for in vitro fertilization.

Despite its benefits, many people are weary of genetic advances. These worries are irrelevant because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have regulations for clinical laboratories to follow the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988.

As stated by the NHGRI, “the objective of CLIA is to certify the clinical testing quality, including verification of the procedures used and the qualifications of the technicians processing the tests. It also comprises proficiency testing for some tests.”

Another reason is stem cell research. A stem cell is a cell that is not yet mature and has the ability to become specialized into any type of cell in the body. Stem cell research is sometimes looked down upon due to the process of acquiring embryonic stem cells.

According to EuroStemCell, embryonic stem cells are primarily made from cells found in a human blastula, one of the earliest stages of human life. As a fertilized egg develops into a blastula, it must be implanted in a womb.

The advantages of stem cells outweigh the disadvantages. According to the National Institutes of Health, stem cells can give rise to any tissue found in the body, providing limitless potential for medical applications.

Stem cells can be used to cure and prevent illnesses and injuries such as Parkinson’s disease, cancer, Type 1 diabetes, spinal cord injuries, burns, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, muscular dystrophy, hearing loss, vision loss and countless others.

Genetic advancements should be allowed to occur. If genetic advancements were better supported, numerous biological breakthroughs would occur. In the words of Gary Hamel, “We owe our existence to innovation. Our species exist thanks to four billion years of genetic innovation.”

Staff writer Ruth Frausto is a biology junior. She can be reached at [email protected]


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