Last week in Washington D.C., scientists from around the world met to discuss where or not to use new, cutting-edge gene editing techniques to alter the DNA of embryos. The stakes are very high because any editing done that early in development would be considered a germ-line modification, one that will be incorporated into egg and sperm cells and then passed down to future generations. So any genetic engineering done that the embryonic stage will affect not just that embryo, but his or her children, grand children and great-grandchildren.
With the advent new DNA editing technology, many people are already fantasizing about creating designer babies. Some parents are salivating over the ability to make their children just how they desire: smart, athletic, tall, strong, beautiful.
The United Kingdom has taken one step closer to creating children with three genetic parents. Last week legislation that will allow fertility clinics to conduct "mitochondrial replacement" in human embryos went into effect.
This is the age of the non-invasive prenatal tests, called NIPTs for short. NIPTs look at minute quantities of fetal DNA floating in a pregnant mother's blood. With these small pieces of DNA scientists can look for genetic abnormalities in the fetus. The tests are "non-invasive" because they only require a blood sample from mom.
New genetic engineering techniques are going to revolutionize medicine. They may also irrevocably change mankind if we are not careful.
Will organ transplants be coming from aborted babies? They will if Ganogen Inc., a California Company, has their way. And Planned Parenthood and Stem Express will likely be partners in that chain that provides organs for transplant taken from aborted babies.
Where Do the Body Parts of Aborted Babies End Up? Scientists Transplant Their Brain Tissue Into Mice
The Scientist recently ran commentary by John D. Loike questioning the ethics of transplanting human brains cells into other species. The piece entitled "When Does a Smart Mouse Become Human?" begins describing the research at the University of Rochester where mice were injected with glial cells from human fetuses. Glial cells are cells that support neurons in the nervous systems. The mice incorporated these glial cells into their brain and "outperformed normal mice almost fourfold in a variety of cognition tests."
Hockey legend Gordie Howe was in the headlines this year for his remarkable recovery from a stroke after a stem cell treatment in Tijuana, Mexico. Initially the reports indicated that Howe was treated with "adult" stem cells, and so the implication was that his treatment was non-controversial. But Brent Schrotenboer, of USA Today, reported last month that Howe's treatment included stem cells derived from an aborted fetus.
In the UK Daily Mail Christopher Gyngell, a research fellow in neuroethics at Oxford University, argues that we are morally obligated to use new DNA editing techniques like CRISPR, which can precisely edit the human genome, to cure genetic disease. He asserts that we must test the technique in human embryos with the hope of eradicating mutations that cause disease. He writes: