The Ethics of Genome Alteration

AP Literature & Composition - Frankenstein Research

What Is Genome Alteration?

-Editing ones genome to to enhance the abilities of one organism beyond what is normal.


  • Splicing (manual cutting) of DNA
  • Nuclease Cas9 (Enzyme)

What HAS Genome Altercation Done?

-It has been used to cure, and sometimes eradicate, certain diseases such as:
  • X-linked SCID
  • Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
  • Parkinson's Disease

-It has also been used for early detection of cancerous tumors

Gene Therapy VS. Genetic Engineering

-Gene therapy: Altering genes to correct genetic defects and prevent or cure genetic diseases.

-Genetic engineering: Modifying the genes to enhance the capabilities of the organism beyond what is normal. Essentially, it is making “Super Humans”.

The Future of Gene Therapy

-Other diseases that could be cured include:
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Tay Sachs
  • Sickle Cell Anemia

-It is also believed that most pathogen-born diseases could be cured through genetic therapy

-Normative gene therapy (strengthening muscles in the elderly) blurs the line between therapy and engineering, a very controversial topic of discussion.

The Future of Genetic Enhancement


  • People suffering from height deficit may be able to reach a normal height through engineering


  • Athlete would be able to genetically enhance their features in order to improve performance


  • It would be expensive and, therefore, only the wealthy could afford it. This would greatly widen the already gaping wealth gap.

Should We Alter Our Genomes?

A good portion of Americans say "No!"
  • 22 laws passed in 15 states since 1997
  • 11 federal laws against human gene alteration

-Do the pros outweigh the cons, or vice-versa?

Works Cited

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Coker, Jeffrey Scott. "Crossing The Species Boundary: Genetic Engineering As Conscious

Evolution."Futurist 46.1 (2012): 23-27. Professional Development Collection. Web. 17

Nov. 2013.

Cole, Steven W.1, "Social Regulation Of Human Gene Expression: Mechanisms

And Implications For Public Health." American Journal Of Public Health 103.S1 (2013):

S84-S92. OmniFile Full Text Select (H.W. Wilson). Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

Epstein, David. "The Future." Sports Illustrated 108.11 (2008): 44. MAS Ultra - School Edition.

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Morozova, Olena1, and Marco A.1, Marra. "From Cytogenetics To

Next-Generation Sequencing Technologies: Advances In The Detection Of Genome

Rearrangements In Tumors." Biochemistry & Cell Biology 86.2 (2008): 81-91. OmniFile

Full Text Select (H.W. Wilson). Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

Portela, Anna1, and Manel2, Esteller. "Epigenetic Modifications And

Human Disease." Nature Biotechnology 28.10 (2010): 1057-1068. OmniFile Full Text

Select (H.W. Wilson). Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

Powell, Russell Kahane, Guy Savulescu, Julian. "Evolution, Genetic Engineering, And Human

Enhancement." Philosophy & Technology 25.4 (2012): 439-458. Professional

Development Collection. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

Roginski, Alexandra. "Unnatural Selection." Chronicle Of Higher Education (2013): 34-35.

Professional Development Collection. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.