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Ethical and Legal Perspective on Germ-line Gene therapy

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Document pages: 81 pages

Abstract: When humans discovered the code of life- DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), a complex molecule that guides the growth, development function and reproduction of everything alive, new frontiers of possibilities opened to us. Information is encoded in the structure of this molecule. Four nucleotides are paired and make up a code that carries instructions. As soon as DNA was discovered, people tried to tinker with it. In the 1990s, there was a brief foray into human engineering. To treat maternal infertility, babies were made to carry genetic information from three humans making them the first humans ever to have three genetic parents. Today, there are super muscled pigs, fast growing salmon, featherless chickens and see through frogs. On the fun side, there are also glow in the dark Fluorescent Zebra fish available for as little as ten dollars in the US. This is impressive but until recently, gene editing was expensive, complicated and took a long time to do. This has now changed with a revolutionary new technology, CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats). Overnight the cost of engineering shrunk by 99 . Instead of a year, it takes few weeks to conduct an experiment and basically, everybody with a lab can do it. It’s hard to get across how big of a technical revolution CRISPR is. It literally has the potential to change humanity forever, for example; ending disease, designer babies, eternal youth along with super strength, undefeatable army etc. Scenarios like these are far off into the future if they ever become possible at all but they are not impossible. While this may be a tempting reason to ban genetic engineering, it would certainly be a mistake. Banning human genetic engineering would only lead science wandering off to a place and jurisdiction we’re uncomfortable with. Only by responsibly participating can we make sure that further research is guided by precaution, reason, oversight and transparency. By gaining a legal insight into the ramifications of such rapid scientific and technological developments and its potential, we as a society will be able to better secure and control it in alignment with legal understanding. Law provides a torch that sheds ideal light on several aspects and nuances that come with the application of modified knowledge in the field of biotechnology, both internationally and nationally with the aim to prevent its misuse and protect and promote the rights of an individual as well as the collective society. And therefore, this thesis aims to explore the various angles of the relationship of biotechnology (germ-line gene therapy) with law in several areas. Two minutes of thought would lead to recognition of myriad issues that one may experience in harmonizing such advances and adjusting them on the lives of individuals and productively using them as a society without breaching unauthorized territory. Ethical, moral, religious and legal perspectives have been covered in the following chapters.

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