Gene Therapy

Scientific advances raise searing ethical and legal questions


If a disease is caused by faulty genes, then why not just replace the bad ones with normal genes? That's the seductive idea behind gene therapy, a conceptually simple way of treating everything from hereditary disorders such as cystic fibrosis to more common ailments like heart disease. Now, after years of clinical tests in animals, scientists actually are inserting genes into people. But experts say formidable technological hurdles still remain and that it may be years before there are practical medical applications. In the meantime, the Human Genome Project is unleashing a flood of information about our genetic makeup that raises wrenching ethical and legal questions. Ethicists say that choosing where to draw the line between alleviating suffering and controlling human destiny will be one ...

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