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1) Isabella Nolte:-
According to the ‘Longevity gene’ responsible for more efficient DNA repair, the longevity gene consists of SIRT6 which is a protein found within the DNA of different organisms. In mice, the protein is weaker than in a beaver, which is why a beaver lives longer than a mouse. With this finding, researchers are trying to see whether species like whales, that can live up to 200 years, have stronger SIRT6 proteins than humans. Many scientists aren’t using their findings to live until 200, but instead to delay diseases like cancer and dementia. That being said, gene transplants may not cure diseases but may delay them. I think gene manipulation could have consequences because it allows mutations to be made within DNA which would present new health problems. Also if it did work, I imagine the process would not be cheap and people who had degenerative diseases wouldn’t be able to get it done when they are the ones who need it most. Other than safety and equality, other ethical considerations include, consent. Many families may have children with disabilities and some will begin to think that swapping around genes is what’s best for the child, but isn’t like changing clothes it is something that would affect the entire being. In addition to this, scientists may want to experiment with embryos rather than adults or children. There are many different beliefs surrounding human embryos for experimentation though. I feel that some resources should be devoted to gene resources to become more familiar with the idea of gene manipulating, but I do think that there should still be sufficient funds to provide Medicare to people who aren’t able to get good health insurance. I think the possibility to help people live longer and postpone degenerative diseases would be a breakthrough in the health and science industry. I think if it worked out, there could be a reduction in expenses for nursing care because people would be able to live longer and healthier lives. Although at some point, there would be just as many people in nursing homes due to the fact that people don’t live forever even with gene manipulation. There just may be a few decades that the numbers decrease greatly in nursing homes before they even back out to what they were before the breakthrough. The idea of helping others live longer healthier lives sounds great, but this is a lot of reasearh and experimentation that needs to be done. Also those who need the procedure should be granted access to it rather than only the wealthy.
University of Rochester. (2019, April 23). ‘Longevity gene’ responsible for more efficient DNA repair. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 21, 2021 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190423133511.htm
2) Danielle Kuntz :-
According to an article in MedLine Plus, longevity is not just determined by genetics but also by lifestyle and environment. I found this perspective interesting, causing me to really think about how longevity is complex. Even if we could ethically justify gene transplants by ensuring consent and autonomy with participants, I fear that the effects of such an advance would lead to ripples that may be difficult to adjust to. Take into consideration lifestyle. The current average retirement age in the U.S. is 64 for men and 62 for women. If life expectancy increased, retirement age would also have to increase due to the financial impacts of living a much longer life. Would living longer and working for almost 100 years cause negative mental health concerns and cause an issue with quality of life. Would our bodies be able to maintain the pace and productivity that is required to financially sustain the longer life span, especially for those in industries that are very physical and labor intensive? Another consequence would be in government programs such as medicare and social security. We already see strains on the our healthcare system with the large population of Baby Boomers now. We would likely need a whole new healthcare system to accommodate a longer living population. Another factor to consider would be if science could alter our health to the degree of preventing heart disease, cancer, etc., would there be any accountability in how we treat our bodies? I wonder if gene alterations for heart disease and other health related diseases would inadvertently encourage a lack of awareness of living a healthy lifestyle.
The last area that I can see consequences of a longer lifespan is on the environment. With the projected dream of lifespan almost doubling, I wonder if we would see overpopulation and how that may challenge our food sources, ultimately leading to more deforestation. We are already seeing the negative impact of humans and our carbon footprint on the ecosystem. Another aspect to consider is how the increase in population would impact our fresh water supply. We already have places in the world that are water stressed. With only 2.5% of the world’s water supply being fresh water, would it be responsible to increase that burden with almost doubling our lifespan?
In summary, I can see the benefits of living a life free of the diseases that currently steal so much personally and relationally, however I question the motivations outside of that. In my opinion there should be a bitter sweetness that comes from knowing that life is “short.” I just wonder how different things would be if we lived longer and if we would actually be compromising quality for quantity.
The baby Boomer effect and Controlling healthcare costs: USC Online. USC EMHA Online. (2020, March 4). https://healthadministrationdegree.usc.edu/blog/the-baby-boomer-effect-and-controlling-health-care-costs/.
Dillinger, J. (2021, February 24). The 10 most obese countries in the world. WorldAtlas. https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/29-most-obese-countries-in-the-world.html.
LeBlanc, R. (n.d.). The environmental impacts of overpopulation. The Balance Small Business. https://www.thebalancesmb.com/how-overpopulation-impacts-the-environment-4172964.
Munnell, A. H. (n.d.). Briefs. Center for Retirement Research. https://crr.bc.edu/briefs/what-is-the-average-retirement-age/.
U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2020, September 18). Is longevity determined by GENETICS?: MedlinePlus Genetics. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/understanding/traits/longevity/.
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