A new genetic The revolution, which is going on at an unprecedented pace, is the focal point of a three-day meeting that began in Washington on Tuesday and has left hundreds of scientists across the country losing their enormous potential, ranging from new treatments genetic disease Designers see what they see as an unexpected “brave new world” of human bravery to create babies.
Technique, called Gene editing, Allowing scientists to cut and paste the DNA that make up human genes with speed and accuracy inside living human cells. It can be used to repair damaged genes and accelerate research into how genes function. It can also be used to transmit genetic traits to future generations, including human sperm, eggs, and embryos, which are now widely considered unethical.
Chinese researchers raised concern worldwide when they reported in April that they had tampered with genes in the human fetus in an attempt to modify the genes responsible for beta-thalassemia, a potentially fatal blood disorder. Such changes, some scientists warned, could permanently change the human genome with unknown results.
“We think we are close to being able to change human heredity,” said David Baltimore, Nobel Laureate at the California Institute of Technology, in a global discussion on Human Gene Editing (A Global Discussion). To consider the “deep and disturbing questions” raised by the new genetic tool.
The last time such a meeting was called to consider the implications of breakthrough technology, the 1975 Asilomar Conference held in Pacific Grove, California, this summit is in front of the whole public view. On the Internet. It was called by the National Academy of Scientists, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the British Royal Society.
There are some methods used for gene editing, but the version that has caused the most excitement – and controversy – is called CRISPR-Cas9, a mechanism that bacteria use to repair their DNA when it is damaged. . Biologists say that it is much faster and cheaper than other methods. What makes the new technology so compelling, and disturbing for some, is how roughly it can be implemented and how difficult it will be to regulate worldwide.
New York University law professor Daniel Kewels said the use of this technology to eliminate genetic dysfunction and increase human capabilities can increase eugenics’ audience. Increasing the genome can have unintended effects. “I like that everyone in the world is concerned with the implication of this new technology,” Kewels said.
The most controversial use of the new tools is that scientists have to edit the “germline”, or replace DNA in sperm, eggs, and embryos to permanently eliminate disease-causing genes in future generations. Eric Lander, director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, says, “We still have a lot to learn and it might be a good idea, but before we make permanent changes to the human gene pool, we need to be quite cautious.”
“True, if we really care about avoiding cases of genetic disease, germline editing is not the first, second, third or fourth thing we should think about.” “Most people don’t know they are at risk.” A better approach is geared to genetic counseling and diagnosis, he said. Once couples know their risks, they can resort to in-vitro fertilization and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis of the fetus, so that women can become pregnant with healthy embryos, not the disease-causing gene.
During the meeting, researchers debated ways to make best use of the new technology and minimize its drawbacks. “We probably need new review and inspection structures internationally to properly use this technology,” said George Daly of Boston Children’s Hospital.
Daly said designer is unlikely to manufacture babies. “I doubt the brave new world of designer babies, because most of the complex traits we would prefer to engineer – courage, intelligence and the like – are multifunctional due to the interaction of genes and the environment.”