The final goal of advances in biotechnology is for the benefit of mankind. Biotechnology largely contributes to human genetic research involving the following areas
Genetic testing and screening
Genetic techniques are now available for prenatal testing to specifically detect whether a fetus carries genetic defects. This will help the parents to be better prepared for the future baby. The negative aspect of prenatal testing is that the couple may opt for abortion even for a minor genetic defected or sometimes for gender bias.
The elucidation of the entire human genome sequence and identification of genes has now become a reality. It may soon be possible to have individual genetic portifolios that will diagnose future health complications for example risk for cancer, heart disease. The genetic portifolios will fortell the individualâ€™s future, which is now being predicated through stars.
Genetic portifolios of individual may pose certain problems with regard to marriages, insurances. Who would like to be a spouse of someone who will soon be a victim of cancer or heart attack, which insurance company would insure person with a very high risk for cancer and heart diseases, many ethical committees are of the opinion that insurance companies should not require, or should not be allowed to have access to individualâ€™s genetic portifolios.
Human gene therapy
There are two approaches to achieve gene therapy, they are
Somatic cell gene therapy
The non-reproductive cells of an organism are referred to as somatic cells. These are the cells of an organism other than sperm or eggs cells, bone marrow cells, blood cells, and skin cells, intestinal cells. At present, all the research on gene therapy is directed to correct the genetic defects in somatic cells. The somatic cell gene therapy involves the insertion of a fully functional and expressible gene into a target somatic cell to correct a genetic disease permanently.
Germ cell gene therapy
This is not being carried out at present due to technical, ethical and social reasons. Manipulation of germ cells will lead to serious problems and complications. At one international meeting on biotechnology the following was the final message given to biotechnology companies on the application of genetic engineering to humans.