Genetical Engineering: Past, Present and Future
The DNA stored in each of our cells affects our health and disease, behavior and appearance. Researchers use the genetic technology to discover how the genes contribute to the development of certain traits. Scientists hope, once the genetical mechanisms become clear, they would be able to find the way to alter human traits and create the most desirable features. Sure enough, this possibility raises ethical, legal, cultural and religious concerns, which pushes each country to develop their policy in regard to genetic engineering. This controversial field is likely to develop dramatically in the near future.
Prevention of Hereditary Diseases
Most of the genetical research in human concentrated on the diagnostics and prevention of hereditary diseases. With the development of biotechnology, advanced methods of multi-gene diagnostics become available. Using the genetically engineered molecules scientists can "scan" the genome (all of the DNA) to find the mutations in the vital genes that affect your health now or may cause a disease in the future. DNA testing is particularly beneficent for those individuals who have genetical predisposition to the curable disease that can be prevented or postponed by the lifestyle changes, monitoring, and medication.
Many drugs on the market produced with the help of genetical engineering methods, including insulin and growth hormone. Hepatitis B vaccine is another example of this useful techniques application.
Better and Healthier Children
Advancement in the genetical engineering made possible the in vitro fertilization and single-cell diagnostics, which allows to select the healthy embryos for the implantation. Pre-implantation genetic diagnostics is highly beneficial for the couples carrying mutations that can cause the developmental disorders in their offspring.
Knowledge of the adult-onset conditions, such as Tay-Sachs and Huntington’s diseases, sickle-cell anemia, may help people manage their lives more efficiently, plan and prepare for the problems, once they arise.
Testing based on genetical engineering methods is now available for the eye color, dexterity, athleticism, inclination toward addictive behavior and special nutritional needs. However, researchers in the social field warn that the knowledge about genetically determined behavioural and psychological traits may backfire and lead to the development of negative self-image and prejudice in the society.
Gene therapy is another exciting application of the genetical engineering. Scientists create the special carrier molecules designed to insert a gene or a group of genes in the human cells. It is speculated that in the future gene therapy may replace cancer treatments available now and become a new approach to the diabetes and other systemic diseases management.
Controversial in Genetic Engineering
Controversial application of the genetic engineering methods for the better athletic performance sparked uproar in the sports community. Genetical performance enhancers are much more difficult to detect, as they merely adjust the production of substances naturally present in the body.
Gene therapy opens the new horizons for the treatment of various diseases and the targeted delivery of medication. However, gene therapy has its limitations, as the single gene often affects multiple functions. Therefore, it is difficult not to disrupt a delicate balance of the human body. The field of the genetical engineering creates the exciting opportunities as well as difficult ethical dilemmas.
Nowadays, there are technologies that could study our genes through our DNA and determine our health risks that we might develop as we start aging. Through DNA Profiling or DNA Testing, we could better understand our heritable traits. Armed with the knowledge on how our body behave, we could actually modify our lifestyle to prevent from getting ill and maximise our health potential naturally.