Designer Babies

Author: Brady Beland

I’m sure many of you reading this will remember Mii, where you could design your own little avatars. You could pick their hair color, eye color, skin tone, etc. As science has become more and more advanced, we have begun dipping our toe into genetic modification. Essentially genetic modification would allow us to “design” a human. Genetic modification is a topic that is debated heavily on whether it’s ethical or not. Should people have the power to genetically modify actual human beings?


In the mid 1990s, genetic modification was beginning to be used by embryologist, Jacques Cohen in order to help infertile women have children using a cytoplasm transfer. This solution for treating maternal infertility caused babies to be born that carried genetic information from three different people. Talk about a major Mamma Mia situation.


As time went on, people became more and more interested in exploring genetic modification. This could be revolutionary, for it could save many children from being born with life threatening genetic disorders. Who wouldn’t want that? Many people actually.


Chinese scientist, He Jiankui was arrested for creating genetically modified babies. He was found guilty for illegal medicine practices and violations of national regulations on biomedical research and medical ethics. Jiankui implanted gene-edited embryos into two women; one of the women gave birth to twin girls in November of 2018.


Many people argue whether Jiankui should’ve been punished so profusely for his actions. There are many different views on the topic of genetic modification; the pros and cons list are both plentiful. Genetic modification is believed to increase the human lifespan by around 30 years and might help prevent genetic disorders such as Alzheimer’s, down syndrome, Huntington’s Disease, and Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Additionally, it helps to eliminate mitochondrial disorders and allows parents to give children desirable genes that they don’t carry. People with this viewpoint argue that it matches modern technology and advancements, so why not use it to our advantage? On the other side of things, the procedure would be incredibly cost worthy. Genetic engineers also can’t 100% properly evaluate every gene and costly mistakes are likely to be made. The embryo could possibly be terminated if not done correctly. Many also fear that genetic modification procedures will be done primarily for superficial reasons.

This topic is heavily debated and many have strong opinions on whether or not genetic modification is ethical or not. What do you think?

 

Author: Brady Beland


Brady Beland is a junior in highschool who is interested in pursuing a medical career. She loves going to the beach and spending time with friends. Brady is excited for what the future holds and hopes to one day land her dream career working in pediatrics

 

References:

  1. Dennis NormileDec. 30, 2019, et al. “Chinese Scientist Who Produced Genetically Altered Babies Sentenced to 3 Years in Jail.” Science, 30 Dec. 2019, www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/12/chinese-scientist-who-produced-genetically-altered-babies-sentenced-3-years-jail.

  2. Fowler, Samantha, et al. “The Structure of DNA.” Concepts of Biology, OpenStax, 25 Apr. 2013, opentextbc.ca/conceptsofbiologyopenstax/chapter/the-structure-of-dna/#:~:text=In%201962%2C%20James%20Watson%2C%20Francis,determining%20the%20structure%20of%20DNA.&text=Now%20let's%20consider%20the%20structure,and%20ribonucleic%20acid%20(RNA).

  3. Shampo, Marc A, and Robert A Kyle. “Stamp Vignette on Medical Science. Francis S. Collins--Human Genome Project.” Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Sept. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2931629/.



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