Blood Cells Turn Cancer Killers

Homework: Write an essay about one aspect that you considered as crucial in your group discussion. Make sure you collect all new words in a wordweb. The essay should be about 400 words long.

The text I am going to talk about is “Blood Cells turn Cancer Killers”. It deals with the topic of having genetically modified white-blood cells that can recognize cancer cells in the human body.

Cancer is actually produced by the body itself. Cells that have lost their naturally-given ability to commit suicide if they malfunction will just create copies of themselves uncontrolled, turning into cancer. This is why the human immune system cannot fight against cancer, because it realizes these cells as normal and is not able to create antibodies against it, like it would do, if cancer is an illness.
On the whole the genetically improved white-blood cells are able to check on these cancer cells in the human body and they are able to kill the cancer cells.

The special thing about this modified cells is, that they seem to be very successful. 100% of the tests with advanced bowel cancer were successfully completed with great immune system activity.
The so-called “t-lymphocyte” is tweaked through fusing with a “homing” gene that targets bowel cancer cells with a so-called “kill” gene, which can be recognized by the immune system. The “homing” gene marks the cancer cell and as a result of that, the cancer cell is going to be attacked by the modified white-blood cells, because the cancer cell now seems to be an illness to the white-blood cell.
On the one hand all these aspects seem to be great inventions. And they really are. But on the other hand, what would happen, if something does not work out properly?

No one really knows about the long-range-forecasts, only momentary predictions can be made. One does not know how much these genetically modified white-blood cells influence the human immune system, long-termed.

The whole experiment has been launched in vitro, in other words without other influences. But a human body cannot be seen under in vitro conditions. It would be a cruelty to human beings to test these cells, without being sure about the consequences. Imagine that a smoker uses these modified t-lymphocytes. Who does know, if the genetically modified white-blood cells are not targeting cells with nicotine in it? The consequences if they mark nicotine-influenced cells are horrible; the white-blood cells would nearly kill every cell in the smokers’ body.
Think about the option of targeting the wrong cell. The consequences would be even worse.

All this risks can only be cut off by having long-term experiments that do not have in vitro conditions, because an in vitro experiment focuses on one aspect that the corresponding scientist wants to analyze. Maybe animal experiments would be useful, putting the moral aspects to one side for the moment.

In my opinion the risks predominate the advantages. To be a “bullet-proof” method of fighting against cancer, some long-range-forecasts should be made and the experiment should be repeated with special focus on the “marker” gen, that target the cancer cell, so that the option of marking a wrong gene can be excluded.

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