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Prompt I. We know that plants are helpful to the environment as a result of their production of oxygen. But plants also provide other environmental benefits. Read the section on p. 555 Nature of Science: “Vertebrates and Human Medicine” and answer the following:
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- Is it ethical to change the genetic makeup of vertebrates in order to use them as drug or organ factories?
- While I think that many times it is unethical to do animal testing on products that are not life-saving, I think it is ethical to change the genetic makeup of vertebrates to use them as drug or organ factories. These animals that are used should be treated humanely as it is important to preserve the quality of life of such animals. Some might say it is wrong to change what God created, but don’t humans do that every day? Changing the genetic makeup of something is not going against God, but instead using the brains God gave us to help humanity survive into the future with a better quality of life.
- What are some of the health concerns that may arise due to xenotransplantation?
- There could be some infectious microbes of the animals that could infect humans who get transplants, though most do not. There could also be a concern that there were long term effects or the bodies could reject the organs. Only time will tell, and more tests are certainly helpful into seeing the future outcomes and prospects of xenotransplantation.
Prompt II. AIDS is caused by the HIV virus and can lead to opportunistic infections as result of the cells that HIV destroys. The progression of AIDS has been of large concern as a major pandemic disease that has yet no cure. Read the section on p. 633 Big Idea: “AIDS and Opportunistic Infections” and answer the following:
- Why has it been so difficult to develop an effective vaccine for HIV?
- A: HIV does not behave in the same manner as other viruses, since the body does not seem to trigger antibodies in response to the virus like it would with other viruses. It attacks the cells that the immune system is supposed to trigger in response, therefore making it difficult to create a vaccine that works for all.
- What are some possible differences between the types of Ols typically seen in category and those seen in category C (i.e. why do shingles and candidiasis occur in B, but others commonly in C)?
- A:The differences include different amounts of Th cells in the blood. Category A has over 500, but no Ols seen, causing the person to have large lymphs. Category B would have 200-499 Th cells, causing shingles or chickenpox, or even fungus infections, while Category C has fewer than 200 Th cells, leading to fungal infections in the lungs (pneumonia) or even cancer of the blood cells.
- What if any, obligation do relatively wealthy countries, such as the United States, have in providing anti-HIV drugs to poorer countries?
- A:The US and other developed wealthy countries certainly have an obligation to help poorer countries have anti-HIV drugs. This is because there is a humanitarian obligation to help those in need whose governments, existing social structures, cultures, and resources limit them from having affordable and easy access to vital healthcare. If developed countries do nothing, these poorer countries fail even more and this could spread the disease around the world and also impact the economy in a negative manner.
Prompt III. Vaccines have been known to assist in the prevention of disease and have thwarted large-scale epidemics. One of the leading causes of death in the modern era is cancer. What if there could be developed a vaccine against cancer? Read the section on p. 635 Theme: Nature of Science: “Cancer Vaccines: Becoming a Reality”:
- 1.Do you see any ethical issues with the cost of this cancer vaccine?
- A: There are certainly ethical issues with the cost of a vaccine that costs $31,000 per dose. How can poor people or those without insurance afford the medical help they so vitally need? How can we disadvantage those who cannot afford it by denying them access to life-saving medication? This is certainly a moral issue that needs to be fixed, as big pharma has to take into consideration the ethical implications of such high costs.
- 2.Even if a prostate cancer patient lives only an additional four months, is it ever reasonable to place a monetary value on human life?
- A: There is no monetary value on human life that could ever be justified. No human is worth more than another, as all life is valued by God. No one should be denied or provided access because of monetary ability to pay; in doing so, this would create a sense of inequality that is socio economic in nature and directly correlated to healthcare access.
Prompt IV. There are various external substances, which can affect brain function. One of the simplest is caffeine, but the most extreme can be drugs. Read the section on p. 700-701 Theme: Biological Systems: “Drugs of Abuse” and answer the following :
- 1.Suppose a form of heroin could be synthesized that had only the desired effects (euphoria and pain relief) with no side effects. Should such a drug be legal?
- . A: As long as it is not addictive and it is used responsibly (medically), I think it should be synthesized and legalized. In fact, today we see many benefitting from CBD oil that comes from the THC of the cannabis plant, and this has provided much relief to people with epilepsy, glaucoma, and other diseases that have medications with serious side effects.
- 2.Should medical marijuana be legal for use in the U.S.? If so, how should it be regulated?
- A: I think it should be legal for use in the U.S., but regulated to people ages 21 and up. Alcohol is more dangerous and addictive, and it is legal, and if promoted responsibly, marijuana can have medical effects or recreational for those seeking to use it without being criminalized.
- 3.In November 2010, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) banned the sale of five chemicals used to make K2, Is this an overreaction?
- A: Because the chemical is typically sprayed on other materials and then smoked, and because of the many deaths that are reported in K2 users, I believe that it is appropriate of the DEA to ban the sale of chemicals used to make K2. These chemicals should be highly regulated, since the side effects mentioned in the text include possible mortality. The same decision has been made with regards to cough syrup and selling that, which is often used to help make meth or other harmful drugs. The more regulation of potentially lethal drugs and their ingredients by the government, the more we can try to control the improper and highly dangerous use of synthetic drugs in the U.S.
Prompt V. Many people know that beauty can sometimes come at a price. There are various measures that individuals have taken to ensure that they do not show the signs of age. One of which is the treatment that some undergo which injects a neurotoxin into their muscle cells to prevent wrinkle formation. Read the section on p. 744 Theme: Nature of Science: “The Accidental Discovery of Botox” and answer the following:
- 1. Considering that botulism is caused by a preformed toxin, how do you suppose it can be treated?
- A: It may be very difficult to treat, and foodborne botulism can be treated by cleaning out the digestive system, including inducing vomiting and bowel movements, or if in a wound, removing tissue. However, sometimes antitoxins can attack the toxin in the bloodstream, yet this cannot change any existing damage done. Antibiotics might be helpful, but are not recommended by many, and the best choice thereafter is to cease using anything that causes or induces the botulism.
- 2. Do you think companies should be allowed to patent a naturally occurring molecule like botulinum toxin? Why or why not?
- A: Although I am personally not a fan of using botox or any other naturally occurring derived forms of toxin, I understand the need for some to use botox to treat crow’s feet, excessive sweating, and migraines. I believe that many things can be lethal if improperly used or injected by a medical professional, so I think that the companies are not to blame as much as the medical practitioners who are using the botox in their offices. Many have died in botulism cases, so it is important to take this into consideration when trying to determine whether it is ethical to patent naturally occurring molecules that could be fatal or harmful to people, even if those instances are very minimal.