Chapter 3: The new medicine and scientific research
3. The new medicine and scientiﬁc research INTRODUCTION Substantial scientiﬁc evidence indicates man’s genetic inheritance acts as a major inﬂuence not only upon his behavior but also upon his health.1 In the United States, for example, it is estimated that 1 out of every 33 babies is born with a discernible genetic deﬁciency which in turn accounts for more than 20 percent of all infant deaths.2 Of all chronic diseases, between 20 and 25 percent are predominantly genetic in origin.3 Down syndrome, for example, is a genetic condition aﬀecting nearly 1 in 800 babies.4 At least half of the hospital beds in America have been occupied by patients whose incapacities were known to be of a genetic origin.5 Because modern medicine can alleviate the symptoms of some genetic diseases through sophisticated treatment, many who are aﬄicted and who would not have survived in the past now survive. Medicine is unable to cure genetic defects ex utero,6 but has been astute in identifying over 4000 inherited disorders.7 The “new medicine” attempts—largely through genetic diagnostics, screening and manipulation—to alleviate the heartbreak of genetic suﬀering and thereby attack genetic disease. Unmistakenly, this type of medicine has a eugenic character; but this, as will be seen, is by no means an overpowering negative.8 Considerable research into techniques for perfecting genetic engineering has been undertaken in an attempt to develop new treatment for individuals with inherited diseases.9 Under the rubric of the “New Biology,” scientists...
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