At the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and Penn Medicine, a team of individuals have managed to edit the genes in mice to stop several lethal lung diseases at birth. In one of their experiments, they were able to reduce the severity of surfactant protein C deficiency and increase the chance of survival when being born from zero percent to 22 percent. The gene editing occurs via CRISPR technology and is delivered to the fetus via amniotic fluid. The genes were edited four days prior to the birth of the mice, which is equivalent to the third trimester in humans. The team of doctors is specifically looking into the use of in utero gene editing for another disease as well, such as cystic fibrosis and alpha-1 antitrypsin.
It’s amazing that a team of individuals has figured out how to manipulate a gene to increase a child’s chance for survival. However, the question must be asked, what else does this open the door for? While this technology can save lives, will it also open the door for people to edit their children in the exact type of babies they want?