Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Genetically Modifying Human Embryos

U.K. scientists are given permission to genetically modify human embryos. Scientists will now be able to alter the DNA of embryos, for research purposes only. This makes it illegal to use these genetically modified embryos and implant them in a woman. The entire purpose of this research is to better understand the earliest stages of embryo development.

The embryos that are being used are excess embryos donated by couples who have had "in vitro fertilization treatment." IVF is the process of combining egg and sperm in a laboratory dish and then transferring the embryo to the uterus. Scientists are concentrating on the first 7 days of the fertilized egg, in which one cell becomes 250 cells. Although there are many benefits of this research, people are afraid it may lead to "designer babies." Ronald Green, a professor, thinks that people designing their babies is bound to happen within the next century. However, U.K. would not be the first country to do so. China altered a gene in embryos that causes blood disorders.

Being able to alter the DNA of an embryo for the better, such as China did, is a good thing. However, once people get to choose their child's eye color and intelligence is where it becomes a concern. I believe children should be born they way they are meant to, and they should not be genetically modified unless for major health concerns. Hopefully, this U.K. experiment doesn't come to that. But like Ronald Green, I have a feeling it might in the near future.

1 comment:

  1. Kajal,

    Great and informative article! This is definitely a morally ambiguous area that could lead to something really good or bring us into another eugenics era, reminiscent of WWII. It all depends on what scientists using these techniques (like Crispr/Cas9) actually use them for. I'm sure many people are upset that we're now modifying human embryos, but we've already done this with other animals, like mice. While mouse cells resemble ours, I think it's great that we can actually modify human cells now. It will give us a better understanding of our own cells. In the future, we may be able to prevent numerous debilitating diseases that lower someone's quality of life. But, as you said, I hope future parents don't abuse this technology in the wrong way, like adding or removing sequences of DNA that just change a phenotype for personal preference only.