Inventors Digest held a youth innovation essay contest, in part to celebrate National Inventors Month, last August. The four winning essays are at InventorsDigest.com. The magazine received and reviewed some 400 essays from across the country. Inventors Digest, in cooperation with IPWatchdog, is showcasing several essays deserving of honorable mention. This is the second Honorable Mention Essay. The first was written by Hannah Joy Coad and was titled Nanobots – An Invention of the Future. This and other essays illustrate the creativity and optimism of today’s youth.
Gene Therapy – Double Helix Health Care
By Evan Brown, 17, Ocean Lakes High School, Virginia Beach, VA
It’s an average day. You wake up, read the paper, and head off to work. While stuck in the daily traffic jam, you notice a slight twitch of your head.
The fleeting movement goes by unnoticed, unchecked and you go about your life. That seemingly innocuous tick is the precursor to a debilitating and often fatal condition known as Huntington’s Disease.
The doctors speak in a solemn tone as they deliver the unforgiving prognosis: all happiness and warmth is immediately sucked from the room. What hope is left? What can one possibly do? Just as the flame of hope is about to flicker out, a fire roars to life out of the darkness. A simple injection. You return to your normal life and thank the lord for readily-available genetic treatments.
Fifty years from now, “gene” is going to be the new “green.” Arguably, genetic manipulation is one of the most powerful forces the earth has ever seen. With a splice there and an insertion there, we can shape the building-blocks of existence into a form of our choosing. Unbelievable? Yes. Fictional? No.
We’ve already cloned a farm animal, made mice glow, and even mapped our entire genomic sequence. It seems inevitable that we will be able to develop cures for the countless number of genetic diseases that plague human beings. Time is the only hurdle, and we are about to clear it.
But once scientists bypass this obstacle, a surplus of new obstructions will pop up. The U.S. government will try to place its unwavering grip on the new, human biotech industry. They will most likely establish a law that will only allow genetic treatment based on need. Otherwise, people would be jumping at the opportunity to see in the dark, increase muscles, or have some superfluous alteration.
But like all good things, there would be a dark side to this miraculous development. Almost immediately, the rich and powerful will gain an unfair advantage over the majority of the planet. Genetic firms will arise (either foreign or secretive), offering specific services such as child design for unbelievably expensive prices. Eye color, skin color, hair color, height, intelligence, sex: wealthy parents would be able to design their “perfect” baby.
Sports will forever change, as people will constantly question whether athletes have used genetics to alter their physical abilities. Black markets will also pose an enormous problem: the malicious and the evil will try to harness this awesome force for their own selfish gains or for the suffering of others. And that’s just the beginning….
Progress is an unstoppable force. The world changes. The world develops. Whether we choose to be the ones changing the world or not, we cannot deny our own influence. But we are discovering the power to change everything that lives: this fact alone has placed us on the path to the very near future of the Genetic Age. The world, and our lives, will revolutionize as we gain control of our own evolutionary path.