THE MYSTERIES OF HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY
Respectful and loving dedication Michael Crichton/Science Fiction genius
By 2020, the European Union would be flexing its muscles and puffing up. As recession smashes old models up, a European Union would have expanded all around to encompass Eastern and Central Europe the Ballic countries and even, probably Belorussia and the Ukraine. Russia would come skidding in with its growing market economy, boomed all the way. Turkey will remain a great buffer between Europe and the Middle East.
So by 2020 some major medical advances are expected. Their likely impact is best assessed by examining the two most important and promising current areas of research – genetics and minimally invasive surgery.
However, by the year 2020 the genetic code will have been completely cracked. Or rather the genetic alphabet of 20 volumes each of 200 pages long will have been unraveled. This maybe an impressive achievement, but its practical utility will probably be on par with that of landing on the moon – that is , not very much,
With a better understanding of genetics, it is argued , it will be possible to screen the fetus while still in the Uterus for evidence of genetic disease and abort those found to be abnormal. This is already done for relatively common genetic blood disorders such as haemophilia and sickle - cell disease ; indeed there are a further 4000 diseases caused by a single gene defect, albeit very rare, which might be preventable in a similar way.
The logistics of finding these needles in the proverbial haystack of the fetal genome are so daunting as to make such a possibility virtually inconceivable. On the other hand most common diseases such as cancer, Schizophrenia and even Alcoholism have a genetic element, but here the notion of identifying the gene involved and aborting fetuses merely because they have an increased risk rather than a certainty of developing such problems in adult life is equally unlikely.
Theoretically, genetic therapy – the replacement of dead genes in affected cells with normal ones, maybe an option, this has recently been tried many times in Cystic Fibrosis by spraying the airways with a genetically altered virus in the hope that it would infect the abnormal bronchial cells, transfer the genetic material and thus restore normal functioning -
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