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DNA Technology in Medicine

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DNA Technology in Medicine 4th of April 2002 The intervention of humans in nature has increased dramatically as the years have gone by. As we start this millennium, a very powerful new technology with much potential is being unravelled that will allow humans to continue unearthing nature's secrets, and to continue tinkering with them: DNA technology. With the human genome fully sequenced, the possibilities to apply DNA technology in a field such as medicine are tremendous. Imagine: drugs tailored to your DNA, that work the first time round leaving no side effects; predictive medicine that will tell you what diseases you might some day suffer, and the gene therapy that is best suited to curing them; the elimination of a genetic disease you have even before your birth; medical checks that involve but a blood test. The possibilities are indeed great. The risks are also great as this technology goes through its baby-steps. Will its benefits be accessible to everyone? Is it dangerous to play with nature? Will its use be adequate to our real needs? Just how far should we go with it? ...read more.


Therapeutic proteins already exist, but with genomic knowledge, the market which was valued at around 20 billion dollars in the year 2000, will boom.7 Research commissioned by The Guardian shows that pharmaceutical companies, biotech firms of all sizes, government institutes and universities have filed patents on a staggering 127,000 human genes or partial human gene sequences.8 Many companies and universities are striving to patent as many genes as they can, without even knowing their function, so that in the future they might prove to be a gold mine. It costs around 250,000 dollars to keep a patent alive, so the magnitude of these investments is quite large.9 All these investigations that represent investments by the billions will with time find cures to many of the diseases that flog human life, but will they only have positive effects? If medicine based on genomic knowledge proves to be as powerful as it seems, then the roles of doctors might be minimized; why need a doctor when a DNA computer chip will tell you what you have, and then prescribe a tailored drug that will work only for you? ...read more.


The potential benefit we can receive from it is very great, but if this benefit isn't maximised around the whole world, and we end up misusing it, I believe it will not be as valuable to the world as it could be. 1 Tagliaferro, Linda and Bloom, Mark V. Decoding Your Genes: New York, Alpha Books 2 Meikle, James. Guardian- Pioneering gene treatment gives frail toddler a new lease of life, April 04 2002 3 NewScientist.com news service. Gene therapy cures "bubble boy" 03 April 2002 4 Weiss, Rick and Nelson, Deborah. Teen Dies Undergoing Gene Therapy , Washington Post, Wednesday, September 29, 1999 5 Ibid. 6 The Economist, Survey: The Human Genome, June 29th 2000 7 Ibid 8 Meek, James. Why you are first in the great gene race, Guardian, Wednesday November 15, 2000 9 The Economist, Survey: The Human Genome, June 29th 2000 10 Meek, James. Why you are first in the great gene race, Guardian, Wednesday November 15, 2000 11 Tagliaferro, Linda and Bloom, Mark V. Decoding Your Genes: New York, Alpha Books 12 The Economist, Should we lock the door on cell science? Mar 14th 2002 13 Dawkins, Richard. River Out of Eden: London, Pheonix Books ...read more.

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