The proposed research will be strongly focused on the problems of bioethics. In particular, the major element of the research will be the exploration of the issues in genetic analysis and manipulations that are practiced by contemporary scientists. The research will aim at the discovery of the ethical aspects of the topic and seek to find out whether or not it is appropriate to manipulate the structure of genes of human subjects.
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The issues related to the practices that intervene in the structure of human genes have been focuses on many debates over the last decades. Currently, there exists a point of view according to which safety and security of the manipulations with human genetic structures are considered complete due to the contemporary level of technological development in the sphere of science and genetics in particular (Mitalipov & Wolf, 2014).
Practically, apart from the issue regarding the appropriateness of manipulations with human genes, the other important ethical issue revolves around the idea that if there are appropriate manipulations of this kind, in what cases exactly would they take place? (Belsky & Ijzendoorn, 2015). In that way, it is possible to make a conclusion that the issues of bioethics in regard to manipulations with genetic structures of humans represent some of the essential questions in the contemporary genetic studies and are extremely relevant to a variety of other topics and aspects such as heredity, molecular genetics, and genetic variation including gene mutation, DNA repair, population genetics, and multifactorial traits.
When it comes to the principles of heredity that are relevant to genetic manipulations, it is important to mention genetic linkage. This concept is one of the key aspects of genetic manipulations and connects a set of other issues, such as meiosis and Mendel’s law (Arnett & Shah, 2014). It goes without saying that studying gene manipulations, it is necessary to explore how genes are linked and combined with one another.
To be more precise, in Mendelian ethics, the dominant belief is that the inheritance of traits happens independently and, basically, each trait is inherited autonomously and without any connection to the others. However, there exist exceptions to this rule as inheritance ratios were established after Mendel’s law was formulated (Lobo & Shaw, 2008). In that way, the genetic linkage that was not observed by Mendel due to his focus on the pairs of genes located on the same chromosomes was found later by the scientists who approached the subject more extensively and found correlations. In that way, when it comes to genetic manipulations, such correlations could be used to recreate certain traits in the human genetic structure.
The issue here lies in the choices of traits that could be manipulated, as well as the technique itself that has mainly been used on animals and plants for now, due to the high chance of an error that could lead to adverse consequences for the altered embryos.
As the major focus of the chosen topic in bioethics, genetic manipulations, in particular, could be viewed as the core aspect of the subject. This issue is also one of the key principles of molecular genetics.
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Molecular genetics and gene manipulations namely, have produced a number of positive results. To be more precise, due to the practices of genetic manipulation, it was possible to alter some kinds of plants in order to breed individual specimens that were resilient to certain types of parasites and diseases (Glenn, 2017). As a result, many problems concerning the scarcity of harvest were handled all around the world.
However, when it comes to genetic alterations performed on human embryos, the issues of bioethics arise. Specifically, a human body and genetic structure are highly complex, and any alterations made at the embryo stage could develop into significant impacts later as the human matures. Genetic manipulations could help battle some genetic flaws such as inherited diseases. At the same time, there is a possibility that new pathologies and diseases could be created through such manipulations without intention (Glenn, 2017).
Another important issue of bioethics explores species boundaries – the problems of crossing human, animal, and plant DNA that could potentially become triggered by the expansion of research on genetic manipulations and modifications.
Genetic mutations are known as the changes that occur in the nucleotide base sequence; such changes are rather common and are usually triggered by a variety of factors such as chemical radiation, free radicals contained in the reactive chemicals, or random chances (Eubios Ethics Institute, 2005). Mutations can appear as a result of the process of metabolism and in response to some external influences such as those of ultraviolet and cigarette smoking.
Mutations that occur in reproductive cells (germ cells) or the zygote can be passed to the next generation of offspring. Also, mutations play an active role in the development of a disease such as cancer and serve as steps in the process of its development. Genetic manipulation can potentially create or control mutations in order to develop specific features in the offspring or get rid of the mutations that are unwanted.
As was specified in the previous section, genetic changes or mutations can occur in DNA molecules under the influence of various factors. DNA repair is the process during which cells work on the correction of damage to the DNA molecules of its genome. In fact, the processes included in DNA repair are numerous and are aimed at the identification of changes and their reparation. In that way, the processes of DNA repair represent one of the essential aspects of genetic manipulations because they are directed at the changes in DNA molecules inflicted by the external impacts and thus will play an active role in the preservation or elimination of mutations produced artificially.
Population genetics is a broad subject that includes a wide range of issues and phenomena in genetics and, basically, represents the foundation of evolutionary synthesis. The contemporary version of population genetics is focused on the exploration of dominance and epistasis of genetic changes, which makes this field rather precise and mathematically oriented. When it comes to genetic manipulations, population genetics will be necessary for terms of studying the long-term effect of the created changes, as well as their potential influence on the population they affect.
The concept of multifactorial traits stands for the methods of formation of genetic traits that include several main factors, such as the impact of genes and the environment. Moreover, many traits can be defined not by one but by a combination of several genes. These aspects serve as another cornerstone in relation to genetic manipulations and bioethics. In particular, multifactorial traits define the complexity of certain mutations and manipulations and thus determine whether or not they could be achieved and what risks will be on the way.
Discussion of Bioethical issues Related to Genetic Analyses and Manipulation
The information provided in this paper sheds light on the interconnection of multiple factors and concepts of genetics in regard to the issues of genetic manipulations. As a result, many bioethical concerns appear preventing full-scale genetic manipulation research involving human subjects to be initiated.
Practically, genetic manipulations include a wide range of practices and options, and, as a result, there exist many different perspectives on this issue. In particular, Mitalipov and Wolf (2014) expressed confidence in the safety of genetic manipulations involving human subjects while Belsky and Ijzendoorn (2015) remained skeptical and stated that a multitude of questions needs to be answered prior to the initiation of tests and practices.
In addition, Glenn (2017) listed a variety of bioethics concerns that included the issues of cruelty towards subjects (humans and animals), the potential for the creation of new dangerous mutations and diseases, the considerations for species boundaries, to name a few.
The major benefit of genetic manipulations involves the potential for addressing many flaws that emerge at the embryo stage and eliminating problems, thus improving the future quality of life of the individual. The long-term effect of this benefit could be the complete elimination of dangerous inherited health conditions and pathologies. At the same time, the negative side of genetic manipulations could be the production of humans and animals with severe impairments, causing them sufferings.
Additionally, the complexity of human and animal DNA structures could backfire during the artificially created mutations and respond with unknown pathologies and diseases. As a result, the entire enterprise seems potentially very risky and very rewarding, which makes it difficult for scientists to agree on the issues of ethics.
Arnett, D., & Shah, S. (2014). Cardiovascular genetics and genomics in clinical practice. New York, NY: Demos Medical Publishing, LLC.
Belsky, J., & Ijzendoorn, M. (2015). What works for whom? Genetic moderation of intervention efficacy. Development and Psychopathology, 27(1), 1-6.
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Eubios Ethics Institute. (2005). A cross-cultural introduction to bioethics. Web.
Glenn, L. M. (2017). Ethical issues in genetic engineering and transgenics. Web.
Lobo, I., & Shaw, K. (2008). Discovery and types of genetic linkage. Nature Education 1(1), 139.
Mitalipov, S., & Wolf, D. (2014). Clinical and ethical implications of mitochondrial gene transfer. Trends of Endocrinology & Metabolism, 25(1), 5-7.