Ever watched the amazing spider man? If u have then u must have watched a scene where Dr Curt Connor asks his group of interns for a radical solution to cure Parkinson’s disease while on the tour. Pater parker answers cross-species genetic engineering. A world without weakness; is it a reality? Well, this article aims to answer the question. Cross-species genetic engineering is the procedure of using the DNA of animals with special properties to introduce them into human beings to treat genetic and metabolic diseases. Cross-species genetics is both risky and beneficial. But a lot of it also depends on how we as humans perceive it.
IS IT POSSIBLE?
The answer to that would be YES. Genetic engineering allows us to transfer genes with useful traits from one species to another. With the help of genetic engineering, we can manipulate the genomes indirectly by controlling breeding and selecting genomes with the required attribute or trait. With the use of recombinant DNA (rDNA) technology we can change the genetic makeup of an organism according to our choices. Now the thing that is of concern is all this alteration that we do in genetic engineering is against nature.
Now let’s talk about one more movie. You must have watched the Jurrasic park series, right? There u must have seen how genetically modified dinosaurs were being made with the use of DNA extracted from the blood of a mosquito that once hundreds of years ago bit a dinosaur and sucked its blood. Fascinating technology right? But nature doesn’t think so. Nature always maintains balance and the fact that nature itself wiped out the dinosaurs is evidence of that. Genetic engineering means playing with the DNA in your suitable way which doesn’t happen in nature but in laboratories and test tubes. And then experimenting with them on many different organisms and later incorporating them into human beings. But we need to understand that we as a human being are unique organism only ethically not in biology. Biology says that we are all made up of different combinations of the same kind of stuff. Even some of our genes and DNA are the same across species. For example, we have a 95%matching DNA with mice and 35 %of our DNA with roundworm. Genetic engineering is an asset for humankind. But using this asset for the welfare of people only is important. Now let’s discuss some of the applications of genetic engineering.
THE GOOD USE OF CROSS SPECIES GENETIC ENGINEERING
Genetic engineering offers solutions for curing disease and controlling their spread. Along with that it also helps in developing food crop in extreme conditions.
Malaria eradication is one such step that has been taken with the help of genetic engineering. To combat malaria gene drive has been used. In gene drive, the genetic makeup of the organism is modified to rapidly spread a particular genetic trait to an entire population of offspring which can either alter the life cycle of an entire species or eliminate it.
Genetically engineered or Genetically Modified Organisms allow the production of more resistant crops. Normally crops are sensitive to adverse weather, ecological and soil condition. Many countries experience extreme climatic conditions which prohibit the growth of food crops. But with evolved technology and the use of CRISPR, we can edit the genetic information and create crops that give high yield and grow rapidly. These crops can also be modified to be more nutritious and healthy to meet essential dietary requirements.
Gene therapies by pharmaceutical companies have been increasing ever since their inception. The demand for the cure of rare diseases has driven this development. The price of these treatments however remains out of bounds for low-income countries. There has to be a set of established laws that should ensure equality in the field of healthcare for all countries.
THE BAD USE OF CROSS SPECIES GENETIC ENGINEERING
We will start from where we left last, the price of these gene therapies which are targeted at a wealthy population is extremely high. These gene therapies may range from 373000$ to 1 million per patient per year. While genetic engineering is helping evolve the future of healthcare, the research is often targeted towards wealthy people who can pay.
Now, this has raised concern about a genomics divide in healthcare. Pharma companies in developed nation dominate the genomic innovations raising existing inequality in the global healthcare sector.
Genetic engineering has opened pandora’s box. While it presents hopes for curing diseases and eliminating hunger, gene editing is still imprecise which could lead to inadvertent and undesirable changes which could also lead to mutation.
Ethical concerns are also a major obstacle in the field of genetic engineering. The fact that dinosaurs were wiped out by nature for a reason itself says that we should not try to bring them back. Anything that genetic engineering does is not natural and against the laws of nature. There have been also alarming concern raised by animal rights activists for doing tests on innocent creatures. Now that we have the technology we cannot rule out the probability that this technology might come into the wrong hands and be used for destruction purposes. There have been already talks of a Sars Cov 19 being a potential bioweapon. But thanks to the WHO report that says it was not made in a laboratory.
The ever-growing advancement in technology continues to surprise us. The healthcare sector which makes most of the developments is something that should delight us. But u must have watched in spider man movie when uncle ben told peter” with great power, comes great responsibility”. Humans may have the power but to use it wisely with responsibility is what needs to be done. Genetic engineering is a gift if used in the truest spirit of human welfare and a curse if used against human civilization. Now we can only hope that the creatures such as Godzilla, kong and dinosaurs do not become a reality and stay as mere fiction. But we never know what the future has for us.
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https://www.un.org FTQ May 2019 report