A revolutionary method in genetic research called Crispr could potentially be used to create designer babies, as the technique is already being used to silence genes or add new genes into the cells of living organisms such as plants and animals.
Crispr could potentially be used for gene therapy in regards to humans, fixing a defective gene in a patient with genetic disease. But the technology could in future potentially be used for a number of purposes including creating designer children with specific DNA being chosen by the parents. It is not a method that involves DNA testing while pregnant – it actually involves DNA manipulation before the human embryo is created.
It may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie and technically is still only fiction. However, it is very much a possibility within our lifetime. Leading scientists and bioethicists argue it is time for a renewal of the debate of genetically engineering human embryos.
Dr David King, from the campaign group Human Genetics Alert, said: “I think it’s pretty inevitable that we’ll get to a point where it’s scientifically possible, certainly these new techniques of genome editing have made something look much more feasible than it did five years ago.” He added: “But that does not mean to say it’s inevitably the way we have to go as a society.”
Using this method for the specific purpose of creating designer babies is already illegal under British law before it has ever been put into practice for this application. But that does not mean to say that if it will remain so after further revelations.
Crispr genetic research is revolutionary for many applications
Picking and choosing a person’s traits by making alterations to human DNA without introducing unintended mutations or flaws no doubt unearths controversies alongside its considered benefits. But it is important to understand that Crispr is a method that could be used for creating designer babies.
It certainly should not be demonised within the genetics world as its other benefits to human kind are already apparent as it revolutionises the study and treatment of a range of diseases, cancers, incurable viruses and inherited genetic disorders.
Craig Mello of the University of Massachusetts Medical School said: “It’s really powerful, it’s a really exciting development . . . now you can essentially change a genome at will, to almost anything you want. The Sky’s the limit.”
Whether or not Crispr should ever be developed for the use of creating designer babies is highly debatable. But any developments in genetic sciences are always positive, any issues are more about their considered application. Just because something can be done does not necessarily mean that it has to be done.
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