Friday, June 19, 2015

The Debate of Gene Editing

Gene editing is now becoming one of the most debated and controversial scientific topics of our time. In April of this year, a group of scientists reported in the online journal of Protein and Cell that they had edited the human embryos using a gene editing technique called CRISPR. Gene editing can be done by this CRISPR system and makes it possible for nearly any scientist to edit DNA in nearly any cell. CRISPR includes a gene-shipping enzyme and a guide molecule that is programmed to focus on the unique DNA then will put the enzyme in the cell to cut and correct the gene that mutated or not healthy. Scientists have made steady progress in their ability to edit DNA, but the CRISPR system marks a major advance in this process. This system allows parents to ability to chose anything from their child's gender to what eye color or hair color they would like them to have. Many believe the process to be inhumane, manipulative, and just a way for wealthy or plain right greedy people to "engineer the perfect baby". Many experts say that use of CRISPR on human embryos should be put on hold until several ethical questions can be addressed. Such as, mistakes might occur in the editing process that could result in severe birth defects and other even successful edits could affect other parts of the genome that were meant to be left alone. 
On the other hand though, many others believe that this process could be used for the common good of others. Interestingly enough, DNA editing could be a very positive and beneficial factor to our modern society. For example, many believe that gene editing could ultimately lead to producing children that are free of specific genes involved in inherited diseases. By editing the DNA of these specific cells or even the embryo itself, it may be possible to correct disease genes and pass those genetic fixes to future generations. Many researchers have used this system to modify certain genes to help restrain against specific diseases such as HIV, cystic fibrosis, down syndrome, and many more. Many others don't exactly see it that way though. They see it as a technical proposal to alter human heredity and consider it to be manipulative. 
So what is the right answer? Unfortunately, so far there is no one correct answer but it will be a debate that will be among us for years to come. In the future, research of genome editing needs to focus on improving the safety of this process. Ultimately, right now, certain opinions do not seem to matter. If scientists figure out to do this in a way that's safe for patients, gene editing could produce tremendously beneficial medical treatments. Regardless, if it is found that the benefits seem to outweigh the risks, it is said that medicine will take this chance.

1 comment:

  1. I hope that science is able to use this to help people and not just so that people can have the "perfect" baby. I feel like this should only be used to help the child's life. For example it should be used to help keep the child from having a life threatening disease. The beauty of people is that we are all different. If we start to use this technology to make the "perfect" baby then we might end up a lot of people who look the same and maybe even act similar. I hope that science does not end up using this technology in this way and instead using it for the better of people who really need it.