Putting a Stop to Inheritable Edits to Human Genome?
The Human Genome project was an international research project that’s goal was to determine the sequence of chemical base pairs that compose DNA, and identify where all of the genes are located on the chromosome. It was completed in April of 2003. There has been large growth in the genetics field as a whole, but gene therapy is one widely known one. Gene therapy is the practice of altering the body’s ordinary tissues to help with medical purposes. It is still very experimental in humans, but is hopefully going to be a way to help treat many chronic diseases such as Down’s syndrome, and Huntington’s disease. One aspect of genetics that is also being studied currently is inheritable edits. This will be the ability to make changes to the human germline, which would be inherited by the person’s child. This may be a way to alter the entire human species.
The article “Group of Scientists Seek Moratorium On Inheritable Edits to Human Genome” discusses inheritable edits. Many scientists argued that this should not be something that is used. More importantly it was argued that there is no need for this type of work, because it is rare that a human disease be caused by only one gene. The other argument behind this is that even if there is an embryo that has a Mendelian disease (a single-gene defect), in vitro fertilization is used and will only produce a healthy child. To counter these arguments, if parents both have copies of a dominant disease such as Huntington’s disease, these edits will be the only way to change it. There are many scientists weighing in on the regulations that need to be put in place, but the one agreement that has been made is that this is not ready for use yet.
I personally feel that there are many benefits to having the ability to make germline alterations. Chronic diseases that are passed down from generation to generation will be able to be stopped. But I do see the problems that are associated with using this type of treatment. I think that the treatment will probably be abused to alter traits such as hair color, height, etc. There is the potential to no longer have the unique traits that make humans different from one another. I am interested to see what regulations are passed on this issue.