Four Corners Activity
I found the four corners activity intriguing. It asked questionsI had not thought of, and ones I may be facing in my lifetime. The ability to sequence and analyze DNA is an immense tool, but it must be handled properly so the mistakes from past science do not reoccur. The mistakes like “cure-all” tonics from the 19th century, or the massive failure of the first polio vaccine. There is also something more dangerous about genetics that no other medical advancement has had.
I believe people have a right to know their genome, but there must be regulations. One who is having their DNA sequenced should review it with a professional who is able to properly disseminate the data. Whether this professional should be a lab technician, a doctor, or the individual’s primary care physician I cannot say, but there must be a knowledgeable person or persons present. There is also the concern of who or what will be doing the sequencing. DNA sequencing is a new market that has many niches to be filled by competing companies. The task of DNA sequencing should not fall onto the shoulders of capitalism. The competition characteristic to capitalism will have a detrimental effect on the quality of the genetic tests because companies will cut corners to sell their tests at lower prices than their competitors. Genomic sequencing and analyzation must be handled with the utmost care otherwise people may be misdiagnosed for disorders they do not have, and the medical field will have another blemish like the failure of the polio vaccine.
The field of genetics has gone beyond simple sequencing to having the ability to edit genomic sequences. Scientists do not know what all of the genes in the human genome control, but they are learning. Bacteria have already been engineered to produce insulin for diabetics, and plants have had genes from entirely different organisms spliced into their DNA. These same changes could be done to humans, but should it? Many in the scientific community think the genetic engineering of humans to be unethical, but there are so many things that could be gained from it. Humans could be made immune to diseases, cancer, heart disease, down’s syndrome, autism, all could be abolished. Disease will not be an issue even when new diseases appear, scientists will be able to study them, and redesign genes to combat the disease. Genetics is another step in the war against disease.