In an attempt to start a series of groundbreaking experiments, UK scientists ask permission to alter human embryos.
- Scientists’ new discovery on evolution of human embryos
- Possible implications of the use of the CRISPR-Cas9 technology in altering human embryos
- Consequences of human embryo altering
Kathy Niakan, a stem cell researcher thinks many embryonic diseases could be treated if only such practices were permitted. The researcher, who is working for the Francis Crick Institute in London, justifies her request by saying that many benefits could be drawn from the use of gene-editing technology.
Nikan thinks UK authorities should allow scientists to alter genes of human embryos because such experiments could help researchers better understand “early human development”. Her application form contains a detailed description of the procedure that the scientist would use in order to edit genes.
The CRISPR/Cas9 system represents a type of immune system that protects human embryos against foreign components, such as, plasmids and phages. Niakan plans to gain access to the CRISPR/Cas9 immune system and trigger various responses, based on the embryonic affections that need to be treated.
In her opinion, gene editing in human embryos should be permitted because it could improve fetal development in pregnancies resulting from in vitro fertilization (IVF). Moreover, the new discoveries could help treat miscarriages and infertility, Niakan has concluded. She reassured authorities that only donated embryos would be used for the experiment.
It is not the scientific applications that worry UK authorities, but rather the fashion-like significance that pregnancies could acquire once this practice becomes the norm. Young couple choosing in vitro fertilization (IVF) may be tempted to ‘design’ their children to be less vulnerable to diseases and to have special abilities or talents.
In some scientists’ opinion, such practices are very likely to occur. They have their origin in Dr. Josef Mengele’s experiments and Nazis’ intention to create a perfect society. Medical firms could convince parents to alter their children’s genes during the first stages of life just to make them more music- or sports-oriented.
Due to gene-editing, parents may be even able to determine the height, the color of the eyes and hair for their children. Once gene-editing is acknowledged it will be very hard to distinguish between medically required instances of gene alteration and parents’ caprices.
Ultimately, there are religious groups, who strongly argue against the acknowledgment of embryonic alterations. They argue that such practices are against the divine and biblical laws. Playing God with a child’s life will eventually lead to more problems, they say.
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