Monday 11 July 2016

Gene editing

"The emergence of a powerful gene-editing technology, known as CRISPRCas9, has elicited furious debate about whether and how it might be used to modify the genomes of human embryos. The changes to their genomes would almost certainly be passed down to subsequent generations, breaching an ethical line that has typically been considered uncrossable...."

"But emerging technologies are already testing the margins of what people deem acceptable. Parents today have unprecedented control over what they pass on to their children: they can use prenatal genetic screening to check for conditions such as Down’s syndrome, and choose whether or not to carry a fetus to term. Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis allows couples undergoing in vitro fertilization to select embryos that do not have certain disease-causing mutations. Even altering the heritable genome as might be done if CRISPR were used to edit embryos is acceptable to some...."

"A meeting convened in December 2015 by the US national academies of sciences and medicine, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of London recommended such a moratorium in light of multiple safety and ethical concerns. Still, many bioethicists and scientists have argued that if defects in single genes causing fatal and debilitating conditions could be corrected in an embryo, then they should be. Shakespeare notes that embryo editing for conditions that cause major disability and death are likely to raise less concern and criticism in the long term. But, he says: `As soon as you get away from the archetypal terrible condition, then you’ve got a debate about whether a condition makes life unbearably hard`."

 "Many people are concerned about where that line would be drawn. Although it may seem now that only a few, very severe conditions should be subject to gene editing, disability activists point out that the list of conditions considered as illnesses, and possibly subject to medical treatment, is expanding. `More and more, people think of obesity or predisposition to alcoholism as disease,` says Carol Padden, a linguist at the University of California, San Diego."

Thanks to `early interventionists` more and more people think that poverty is an indication of a socially inheritable disease passed on from one generation to the next.

Any idea where this is going ?

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