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Should we screen embryos for genetic diseases?

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Should we screen embryos for genetic diseases? By Vicki - Louise Flowers 11A Content: Introduction DNA, Genes and Alleles Inheritance What is a Genetic Diseases? * What is a PGD? * Advantages and disadvantages of PGD * Multifactorial and polygenic disorders * Cystic Fibrosis * Huntington's Disease Case Study One: Zain Hashmi Gene Therapy * Retroviruses * Adenoviruses * Adeno-associated viruses * Herpes simplex viruses * Problems Case Study: New embryo test to screen for 6,000 diseases Ethics Evaluation Introduction: In this coursework I will be looking to see if it is right or wrong for parents-to-be to have their embryos screened for genetic diseases. Screening for genetic diseases allows couples to see if their unborn baby would suffer from any disorder that runs in the family. There are over 4,000 genetic diseases around to today and over 5 million people are affected each year. There are many people whose opinion is that by choosing how your baby will be is a form of Eugenics. Sometimes screening embryos can help people make decisions about their future and how their life may change. Using this method can also help save people lives. But genetic screening is also causing problems such as the thinning of the gene pool and removing genes that may be beneficial in some unknown future. DNA Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA for short, is a long thin chemical which contains genetic instructions for the development and functions of living organisms. DNA is made up of two strands twisted together to made something called a 'double helix'. The helix is held together by hydrogen bonds between the bases and the strands. The part of DNA that has the genetic code for making a particular protein is called a gene. Genes can be found along thread like structures called Chromosomes. These are the packaging system of our DNA that allows 2m to fit in the nucleus of every cell. ...read more.


* PGD costs a lot of money * Parents may pick what traits they want their children to be born with * Some people and religion's believe that life begins after conception and shouldn't be tampered with after this stage Stem cells Stem cells are unspecialized cells, which can grow into any type of cell in the human body. These cells are used to help people who suffer with certain genetic or inherited disorders. For example doctors can grow new brain cells to help treat people with Parkinson's disease. But these cells can only be used when people genes match the genes that are in the stem cell so that the patient's body doesn't reject the treatment. Stem cells are taken for the embryo after only a few days of being fertilized. For research doctors use embryos that are left over from fertility treatment. Figure 6; the diagram shows how stem cells are used Case study one: Zain Hashmi In the early months of 2002 Zain Hashmi was diagnosed with a serious inherited blood disorder. To correct the problem he needed to have a bone marrow transplant to allow his body to make the correct blood-making cells. For the procedure to work this family need to find donor tissue that was a good match so that it wasn't rejected by his body. Unfortunately for Zain no match was found and the only way for him to get the transplant now was by having a brother or sister that had matching tissue type. This would work by taking blood from the babies' umbilical cord and for it to be used to make the cells Zain needs. If Zains parents got the permission to use PGD it would allow them to select embryos which didn't carry the blood disorder. Luckily for the family the HFEA already allows PGD to be used for disease. But as Zain needs a certain tissue type the embryos also need to be tested for them to match. ...read more.


Due to this children that were born after the Black Death and to families that survived the virus were born with the genes that made them amine to the disease. People think that by choosing traits for their children it will help them in later life but it is actually affecting their future. Even though some diseases are not as common as before this is affecting the millions of people that are. As some diseases are dying out it is becoming harder for researches to find medical cures to help save patients lives. Evaluation Though out the years many people have expressed their different opinions on screening embryos. After looking at all my research I have come to the decision that genetic screening should be used, but only if it helps children from suffering from disorders that would affect their life in the long run. Children with Cystic Fibrous would grow up knowing they were different from the other children. They would also know that they couldn't do certain things on their own as it may be dangerous for their health. By screening embryos for genetic diseases it would also stop the misery that could affect families from losing their child. Whilst looking at Zain's story you start to see how much the family is affected by his illness. If they didn't have any other child then they may lose the one they already grow to love and care for. People feel that creating another baby is wrong to help another person but if it saves someone you love from suffering wouldn't it be a good idea. Text Reference DNA, Genes and Alleles; http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/science/ What is a Genetic Diseases; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_disorders What is a PGD; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preimplantation_genetic_diagnosis Advantages of PGD; http://www.care-life.com/embryo_screening.htm Disadvantages of PGD; http://www.ntu.edu.sg/home2004/PAVA0001/info.htm#Advantages%20of%20PGD Multifactorial and polygenic disorders; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_disorders#Multifactorial_and_polygenic_disorders Cystic Fibrosis; http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/science/21c/genes/genesandinheritancerev7.shtml Huntington's Disease; http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/science/21c/genes/genesandinheritancerev8.shtml Sickle cell - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sickle-cell_disease#Inheritance Stem Cell; http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/science/21c/genes/genetherapycloningandstemcellsrev5.shtml Case Study One: Zain Hashmi; Twenty first century science, GCSE science higher tier Gene Therapy; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_therapy Retroviruses; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_therapy#Retroviruses Adenoviruses; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_therapy#Adenoviruses Adeno-associated viruses; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_therapy#Adeno-associated_viruses Herpes simplex viruses; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herpes_simplex_virus Case Study: New embryo test to screen for 6,000 diseases; http://www.guardian.co.uk/frontpage/story/0,,1800745,00. ...read more.

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