Monday, February 15, 2016

Altering The Human Embryo

  As reported in The New York Times, the Human Fertilization and Embryo Authority has approved British developmental biologist, Dr Kathy Niakan’s application to alter human embryos through the use of a genome editing technique called Crispr.  This process involves cutting and pasting operations onto DNA with precision.  Embryos that will be used in this experiment are extra remaining embryos generated from fertility clinics.  This technique has the ability to alter the human germ-line through alterations of the egg, sperm, and embryo.  It is also known in principle that these genes can be inherited by future generations.  However, what side effects or consequences of altering the human germ-line is unknown.  Although Dr. Niakan does not intend to have these embryo's implanted, and only performing these operations for better knowledge of human biology; the possibilities, and consequences are overwhelming.  The variables of uncertainty is dangerous to phantom.
  The research may pave way to understand infertility problems, early miscarriages, or genetic repair of defected genes.  It may also, cause unprecedented changes to the human germ-line that may or may not be a threat or harmful.  Due to these reasons, editing the human embryo research has been restricted in many countries including here in the U.S, Britain, and China.  Many fear ethical issues may arise and would argue that it is unethical to change pick and choose the future of a developing life based on their genetics.  That every life has the right to live in this world regardless of their differences and form.  However, if you knew through genetic testing that your child may suffer from a disease or you that you have a genetic defect that would prevent childbirth; would bringing that child into a world of suffer be a better choice or treat them at development in hope for a better life for them.  
  If editing a gene would cure the defect of miscarriages, consider the lives saved as oppose to no editing occurred and miscarriages continued.  Of course their will always be a risk to any new idea or technique.  However, if risks aren't taken, how will we know if these new ideas or techniques work or not.  If this study improves our knowledge and may possibly provide a breakthrough to major discoveries without taking or harming a life; I feel it is ok.  

1 comment:

  1. Altering the human embryo is a very controversial topic. The fact that technology allows us to prevent certain diseases is incredible, but causes a huge ethical issues. Personally, I believe this technique is fine to use as long as it can proven that it is safe and only used to give the child a better life.