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Interesting debate: Ethical and social issues

Interesting debate: Ethical and social issues
« on: 08 August , 2019, 17:19:05 pm »
Hi everyone!!
Science is not only about developing and researching. Scientists have to take into account the ethical issues regarding their discoveries and developments. The social and ethical parts are as important as the others and I encourage you to base your papers on them if you feel like it. When I wrote mine, I did focus on ethics, for example.

Gene therapy deals with a lot of ethical and social issues. Some of them are the following:

- Therapy against enhancement

I did my paper on Cybernetic Prothesis and one of the aspects I focused on is how using that technology to enhance our capacities could be unethical or, in the other hand, could help us developing and evolving. The same issue comes up concerning gene therapy. Where can we set the limit? Would it be ethical to "improve" the human specie and therefore entail the introduction in human subjects of novel characteristics going beyond the usual, medical, understanding of health? If we started to enhance our capacities by using this technology, wealthier people would probably the ones benefited by it. Therefore, a big social gap might appear between enhanced and not-enhanced people. The waste of resources might be another issue regarding enhancement.

- Somatic against germ line gene therapy

Current research deals with somatic gene therapy. As you might know, somatic cells are any except for the reproductive cells. Therefore, since the germ line is not affected, all effects of therapy end with the life of the patient, at the very latest. However, gene therapy could be used in germ line cells. The consensus against germ line therapy is broad. The ethical debate on germ line therapy has usually focused on two aspects:

Germ line therapy is "open-ended" therapy

Germ line therapy may involve invasive experimentation on human embryos

When I did my paper, I thought new regulations could solve the uncertainty regarding my topic. Nevertheless, the problem comes up when setting the legal limits. These, in my opinion, should be determined by ethics. The same happens with gene therapy. Where is the ethical limit? 

What are your thoughts? Where do you guys think the limit is? I encourage you all to think about this as, in my opinion, it is very interesting. Please, feel free to base your papers in any of the aspects commented if you wish to. Good luck!!

Best regards,
María Vaquero, Spain

Re: Interesting debate: Ethical and social issues
« Reply #1 on: 09 August , 2019, 11:52:48 am »
As always, a good midday to you all

One of the reasons I think the subject of gene therapy is interesting is because of its ethics. When thinking about it, some thoughts came to my mind.

First and foremost Maria already posed an interesting question which also came to my mind: What effects will gene therapy and especially gene editing have on a social matter?
During my research I crossed an interesting article about why such a little amount of treatments are authorized. It basically comes down to profit: many genetic disorders are very rare and a cure would therefore not be profitable but immensely expensive.
Of course this has its effects on social inequality, but it has always been like this with other expensive, non genetic cures.
Now I question how such things would fare when gene editing or even enhancement could, potentially, be possible or imminent.
Furthermore, I think enhancement should not be possible in its own - not only because of dividing social classes. There are just too many ways I could see things getting out of hand... a slippery slope, if you will.

But this could just be my thinking... I am interested to hear your thoughts.

My regards
Tijs Smits

Re: Interesting debate: Ethical and social issues
« Reply #2 on: 10 August , 2019, 12:52:36 pm »
Hi guys,

First of all, I would like to remind you that there is a post about ethics and regulations on this blog started by a participant already, so maybe you can join their debate. :)

Anyway, I agree that ethical regulations are a very important part of this topic as these are slowing down the process of development of this technology.
Some of the ethical quetions are:
-Will the high costs of gene therapy make it available only to the wealthy?
-Could the widespread use of gene therapy make society less accepting of people who are different or have issues treatable by gene therapy but are unable to afford it?
-Should people be allowed to use gene therapy to enhance basic human traits such as height, intelligence or athletic ability?

I found a lot of interesting pieces of information about gene doping - athletes enhancing their genes. It is similar to gene theraphy but the purpose is different and it one of the ethical issues.
Here are some articles about gene doping.

I believe it is extremely difficult to set the proper limits of what is it acceptable and what isn't but there should definetly be some.

Do not forget, veterans are here for you  :)
Best regards,
Brina from Slovenia

Re: Interesting debate: Ethical and social issues
« Reply #3 on: 10 August , 2019, 22:55:41 pm »
Goodevening everyone,
One of the latest and most important innovation in gene therapy is CRISPR-CAS9. Its creation has lead to new possibilities to improve our life But also to a lot of ethical issues. In fact, in order to create a regualtion to this issues Jennifer Doudna has asked to the scientific community to stop their work gir a short while.
Therefore, I asked my self which this problems could be. In the following link you Will find some useful information.




 Have a nice day

Re: Interesting debate: Ethical and social issues
« Reply #4 on: 29 August , 2019, 10:35:09 am »
Good morning everyone,
I would like to talk about the fact that, as Tijs said, at the moment most of therapies based on gene modification can't be used right now because the treatment isn’t profitable to the pharmaceutical companies, but whenever the technology improves, the costs will reduce and countries with public healthcare will be able to provide their inhabitants with the needed therapy, that’s what Javier Alonso said (a researcher who works at the Instituto de Salud Carlos III) and I agree with him. Also in countries where there’s no public healthcare there won’t be any difference between the gene therapies and the usual therapies, those who can pay will receive  the treatment and those who can’t pay won’t receive it.
So in my opinion genetic therapy won't affect the gap caused by social inequality, it will be the same as the gap caused by our healing methods right now.
Have a nice day, Unai Fernández.