The Human genome is solely
based on four letters. Reading, studying and comparing DNA sequences have
become routine. The advent of new technologies like CRISPR has made editing the
genome very cheap and quick. CRISPR,
which is an acronym for clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeat, has
revolutionized the process of gene editing. Even though it was discovered in
1987, scientists and researchers started using it in the late 2000’s.The technology
delivers a precise gene alteration and it is probably by far the most
interesting advances in molecular biology. It has the potential to end the most detrimental diseases like cancer,
Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and scikelcell anemia to name the least. Nonetheless, its
use has revived many previously raised social and ethical issues with humans,
other organisms and the environment. For instance, embryo modification and
cosmetic therapeutics. The new issue is the relatively simple construction and
low cost of CRISPR/Cas9 for genome editing, with the possibility of multiple
purposes. A public discourse over the social, ethical and legal implications is
of paramount importance.

 

Most
people believe that gene editing or manipulations is unnatural or even say it
is playing god, but this seems somehow flawed and inconsistent with the premise
they provide. Even though the argument infers that natural is always good, we
have come to see that there are a lot of natural occurrences that refute the
idea. For instance, humans fall ill all the time and the disease causatives are
a part of nature. If we preserved everything in nature we wouldn’t exist in the
first place. We would die of drought, famine, or some epidemic.

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It is hard to argue that altering genomes
is inherently dangerous because we can’t know all the possible ways it will
affect the person. This argument will fall short because it doesn’t take into
account the inherent dangers of the natural way we reproduce. Only 33% of the f­ormed
embryos succeed and most of them fail within the first month of pregnancy.

Another concern comes from proponents of germ line
editing.  This is editing sperm cells or
eggs which would introduce inheritable genetic changes at inception. This could
be used to eliminate genetic diseases, but it could also be a way to ensure
that your offspring have blue eyes, say, and a high IQ. Why is this a threat?
Well, selectivity has been under nature’s control which meant, changes were
merely random and a result of a probability. Now that we have the necessary
technology, we can speed up the process of evolution but this might come with
dire consequences and a question might be raised as to who is going to control
it and how are going to select a heritable trait.  There are 7.9 million children born with a serious genetic defect. There
are millions of dollars spent to treat the diseases and imagine the distraught
the parents had to go through. It is just a pain for everyone. Optimists look
at these problems and the advanced techniques we have and advocate for more
funding for researches to keep things moving in the right direction. When the suffering and death caused by such
terrible single-gene disorders as cystic fibrosis and Huntington’s disease
might be averted, the decision to delay such research should not be made
lightly. Just as justice delayed is justice denied, so, too, therapy delayed is
therapy denied. That denial costs human lives, day after day.

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