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Eugenics: Health Benefits And The Future

2771 words - 12 pages

Eugenics: Health Benefits 1


Eugenics: Health Benefits and the Future

The study of eugenics is propelling the world quickly into the future. Eugenics is the study of genetically engineering enhanced humans. This genetic engineering is done through modification of certain traits on an embryonic level, to create a heritable trait. Once modified, these traits will be passed on to the offspring of this individual, as well as demonstrated in that particular individual. The traits that can be modified are as simple as hair color, eye color, skin color, ability to grow muscle mass, body build, ...view middle of the document...

The first step was decoding the human genome. This was easier said than done, as the government's scientific groups were working on the Human Genome Project for thirteen years before determining what the specific genes that encode for a human being were (U.S. Department of Energy, 2005).
After the human genome's blueprints/genetic-map were coming into light, scientists began to be able to determine what certain sections of a person's genetics, a small portion of a "gene" or single chromosome, coded for particular facets of a human. Some genes had code in them for certain diseases and needed only one "allele," section of a gene, to cause the disease. Other diseases required multiple alleles to be present in the genetic makeup to cause the disease. For example, if there is only one out of four alleles in a set of one's genes, that individual does not have the disease.
The same applies to traits demonstrated in humans. Eye color, for example, requires more than one allele present to determine what is seen outwardly (Raven, 2007). After the understanding of our genes and alleles came into play, scientists began to practice modifying these genes. The process of creating recombinant DNA became the most popular method of gene modification. Recombinant DNA is, most simply, a way of describing the insertion of particular gene segments and alleles into an already existing gene. Once this new segment of gene is inserted, the gene (DNA) is considered recombinant. Since DNA makes up the genetic code for all proteins within an organism, recombination can be used to modify the protein's output by DNA. Usually recombination occurs by taking the desired additional DNA and placing it into a bacterium, which is subsequently duplicated due to the high rate of replication in bacteria, therefore making the bacterium a production center for whichever desired trait. This could be applied to replicate specific medications (i.e. insulin for control of diabetes) (Pfizer, 2007). The possibilities for genetic recombination have not been touched scientifically at this point.
As it stands today, germline (embryonic cell) engineering of the human genome is not performed on more than an experimental level and research indicating such experiments is not publicly released. A slight offshoot that has been in use since the 1990's is gene therapy. Very similar to germline engineering, gene therapy takes the affected allele of a disease and replaces it with a non-mutated, functional allele (Bushman, 2007). This has been successfully put to use in very few cases as of today. However, much like germline engineering, gene therapy most frequently utilizes viruses and bacteria to implement the changes to the human genome with the affected allele of the gene. Dissimilar to germline engineering, however, is that the changes are made to the human genome only in the genes that demonstrate the virus. What this translates to is a cure for this particular individual, but...

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