• Improvements in the identification and treatment of disease. But some benefits can be abused. Social and ethical questions include…
  1. Pharmaceuticals: DNA cloning allows quick and inexpensive production of pharmaceuticals
  • Ex: human insulin and human growth hormone (HGH) are readily available as products of DNA cloning
    • Insulin is used to treat diabetes and HGH for dwarfism but can also be misused by athletes to enhance performance
  1. Human Disease Profiles: Some diseases are inherited and can be identified before symptoms appear by evaluating the genes thru SNP markers and PCR with specific primers
  • Sometimes a person can avoid symptoms but other times there are no available treatments (so should the person know?)
    • Should medical insurances know they are high-risk patients?
  1. Transgenic organisms have genes taken from other organisms (and species) through genetic engineering
  • Genetic engineering in plants. Genes have been inserted into plants that provide resistance to pests, insects, herbicides, and drought
    • Ex: many GM plants have the Bt gene that gives plants insecticide properties.
      • Gene comes from the plasmid of bacteria which makes chemicals toxic to specific insects → but some insects not killed → build up resistance
    • Also plants spread genetic information through pollen between different species
  • Genetic engineering in animals. Genes have been inserted into domestic animals to make desirable products or to produce animals that are better at rearing.
    • Ex: salmon given growth hormone gene (from different species)
      • Concerned about gene flow into wild populations
    • GMOs in the food chain. Worried that genes that causes allergies might be may be unknowingly inserted into GM organisms
  1. Reproductive/Gene Cloning: process uses somatic cell nuclear transfer → Nucleus from a somatic cell taken from differentiated adult cell of desired animal replaces nucleus of unfertilized egg cell→ creates a clone of desired animal
  • Selective breeding is slow but reproductive cloning promises to produce copies of a desirable individual within single generation
    • But so far has had mediocre success with test subjects suffering organ failure, disease, shorter life spans, and low success rates (hundreds of trials before successful clone

Reasons for Cloning problems

  • Changes in the genome of nuclei of a fully differentiated cell from donor animal must be reversed for genes to be expressed
    • Can result in abnormal regulation due to variant methylation