First, questions that have strong implications regarding issues in reproduction are examined. These questions involve the health and well-being of existing humans, the health and survival of conceived humans prior to birth, and the nature of the germ cells that could influence future generations. These developments involving human existence have resulted from attempts to understand the structure and functioning of the human genome. It is possible to screen the genetic structure of individual embryos and, in a few instances, to manipulate that structure in the event that potential problems are detected. Advances have occurred, using procedures such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), that make it possible to obtain information about the genetic structure of embryos that are being cultured prior to implantation in the uterus. At the present, genetic screening is used primarily to detect genetic defects and to determine the gender of an embryo. Genetic defects can be detected that will have direct expression in the developing organism, and it is possible to identify asymptomatic carriers of defective genes. If such carriers are detected, then a couple could be counseled regarding the risks they run as carriers of genetic diseases that can be transmitted to potential offspring. All of these developments make it possible to influence the structure of the genes of individuals and to influence the genome that will be passed on to succeeding generations.
KeywordsCystic Fibrosis Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Genetic Screening Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Human Genome Project
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