The Human Genome
The Human Genome Project (HGP) is an international scientific research project with the goal of determining the sequence of nucleotide base pairs which make up human DNA, and of identifying and mapping all of the genes of the human genome from both a physical and a functional standpoint. Some people advocate the use of this knowledge to ultimately develop gene therapy. The goal of gene therapy would be to find alleles that are “faulty” and to correct them with normal alleles. Ideally, to “fix” every cell in an individual, this process would need to occur in embryos. Presume a couple found out their embryo has a gene mutation that has a high success rate of causing cancer later on in the baby’s life. Would you advocate the use of gene therapy in the embryo to correct the problem before the child was ever born? What if the embryo did not appear likely to develop a genetic disease, but the parents decided that they would really prefer that their child have blue eyes as opposed to brown? Would you advocate the use of gene therapy in this case? Should the use of this therapy be limited? Who should decide those limits?