Designer pets” are already within reach; mice have been turned green. Beagles have been doubled in muscle mass. Pigs have been shrunk to the size of cocker spaniels with “designer fur.” Woolly mammoths are being attempted.
Illustration: Chelsea Beck/GMG
They are predicting that half of the population with decent health care will–have eggs grown from human skin and fertilized with sperm, then have the entire genome of about 100 embryo samples sequenced, peruse the highlights, and pick the best model to implant.
traits could changed in a designer baby
Embryo screening involves a process called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). Embryos are created by in-nitro fertilization and grown to the eight-cell stage, at which point one or two cells are removed. Scientists then examine the DNA of these cells for defects, and only normal embryos are replaced in the womb.
Three-parent babies are human offspring with three genetic parents, created through a specialized form of In vitro fertilization in which the future baby’s mitochondrial DNA comes from a third party. The procedure is intended to prevent mitochondrial diseases including muscular dystrophy and some heart and liver conditions.
Pros and Cons of Designer Babies
Reduces risk of genetic diseases
Reduces risk of inherited medical conditions
Keep pace with others doing it
Better chance the child will succeed in life
Better understanding of genetics
Increased life span
Can give a child genes that the parents do not carry
Prevent next generation of family from getting characteristics/diseases
Termination of embryos
Could create a gap in society
Possibility of damage to the gene pool
Baby has no choice in the matter
Genes often have more than one use
Geneticists are not perfect
Loss of Individuality
Other children in family could be affected by parent’s decision
Only the rich can afford it
Some scientists disagreed over whether certain types of gene-editing would be important for helping patients, with one prominent researcher contending the technology would not often be needed, while another described dire current clinical needs for it.
CRISPR is a powerful technology that allows editing—by way of replacing or repairing—of multiple genes at once in animal, plant and human cells. This biological tool could help unlock understanding of basic human biology and also help patients in need of medical care. However, This method has also sparked new ethical controversy.
Gene editing could include altering genes in one person—say to treat disease or make a cosmetic change—but, more controversially, it could also include making changes to the germ line that would then alter the genome for an individual’s children, grandchildren and the following generations, with potentially unknown repercussions.