Monday, February 8, 2016

Britain Gives Permission for Gene Experimentation on Human Embryos

Last Monday, Britain has officially given permission to scientists to conduct gene-editing experimentation on human embryos. This landmark decision may be the beginning to what many ethicists say will lead to "designer babies." Others believe it may be the beginning of "super-soldiers."

Although researchers will not be creating human life, they will be modifying the embryos to better understand human fertility, disease and miscarriages. The human embryos are set to be destroyed seven days after modification. I believe this factor to be a mistake, because if you are to do the science you should not do it half-heartedly. How much data can you get from an embryo in seven days that takes 9 months to mature? My guess would be an insufficient amount for proper research.

The team carrying out the research will be led by Kathy Niakan, who plans to use the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing method, a relatively fast and cheap approach published in 2012. In short, CRISPR-Cas9 allows researchers to pinpoint a target gene and cut it using the Cas9 protein. By using this method, they will essentially begin to use a "biological cut-and-paste method," one that could bring huge benefits to research and/or unintended consequences for the future.

1 comment:

  1. This will become a high controversal ethical issue just as cloning has. Modifying an embyro for reaserch will stir many people's emotions according to particular beliefs. However, I can understand the interest for research purposes. I do agree with you that it will be insufficient to only study seven-day-old embyros rather than an actual fully developed fetus