Is Nature Ever Going to Be Good Enough?

An image of DNA. (Screenshot/YouTube)
An image of DNA. (Screenshot/YouTube)

HIV/AIDS and hemophilia could be a thing of the past by editing genes. Scientists until now have limited their modifications to genes in non-reproductive cells.

Now, there are a number of researchers across the world who want to start editing genes in human embryos. By doing this, it will affect the entire organism.

But a group of American geneticists say it is a bad idea.

3 week old human embryo Image: Screenshot/YouTube

3 week old human embryo. (Screenshot/YouTube)

The geneticists wrote in a commentary published in Nature: “Editing human embryos is problematic because it could have long-term, unintended effects.”

Watch real footage of developing baby/embryo/fetus:

The process uses a nuclease, which is an enzyme that snips DNA into smaller pieces in order to make changes in a cell’s genetic makeup.

But this technique is still not perfect; it works differently depending on its concentration and the type of cell.

Watch all about genome editing with CRISPR-Cas9:

With so much left to chance, these enzymes could work on parts of the genome other than those targeted, which could have major unintended consequences on the embryo that don’t become obvious until many years after a baby is born, wrote Popular Science on their website.

There are some other issues that need to be addressed, like genetic modifications would be done without the embryo’s consent, and that any changers could be passed down to future generations.

Watch all about human genetic engineering:

Countries, mainly in Western Europe, have bans on editing the genome of human embryos. But there are still a few countries that don’t.

“These are conversations that need to be had among researchers, ethicists, and the public before this type of work becomes widespread”, the researchers write.

Until all these standards are worked out and set, the geneticists hope that those working with human embryos around the world will take a break from their work, at least for now.

I for one think research is a good thing as long as it is well planned, thought through, and safe, but at some stage, we need to let nature run its course.

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