When designer babies come to mind the first thing I think of is super humans, designer babies are now a reality. Here we will be discussing genetic engineering process and the designer babies pros and cons.
By Ayesha Shafique and Arbab Zahra
Every living creature is defined by it’s genes from smallest single-celled organisms to the largest creatures on Earth. By using gene editing tools such as CRISPR scientist are able to change an organism’s fundamental features. A groundbreaking new technology called CRISPR-Case 9 was invented by Geneticist Jennifer Doudna. By using tool scientist are able to edit DNA strands, which could lead to treatment for genetic disease and also able to create designer babies.
Producing programmed offspring is not a very new concept scientists has to has started to work on it from 1970s era only for the purpose of disease cure then to make transgenic plants and animals afterwards to clone animals leading to human genome project then jumped onto CRISPR and now in2018 to designer babies, In a video posted on YouTube, Chinese scientist He Jiankui declared to the world that he has successfully used the gene editing tool CRISPR Cas9 for modification of the DNA of two embryos , babies named as Lolo and nana, for producing the world’s first genetically modified humans (GMO) and to treat AIDS. Another case Adam Nash , born in the US 20 years ago to be a donor for his six-year-old sister who suffered from fanconi anemia, a rare and fatal genetic disease , is considered the world’s first savior sibling. In 2010 Brittan reported its first savior sibling but these were produced by using technologies other than CRISPR. CRISPR started anew debate of lot of concerns because of its ease, high precision and inexpensiveness.
The technology is the replica of a natural defense mechanism in some bacteria, uses a similar method just for protection against virus attacks. An RNA molecule is programmed to locate the particular sequence on the DNA strand, and a special protein called Cas9, which is now popular as ‘genetic scissor’, is used to break and remove the specific sequence. When a DNA strands has broken, it gained a natural tendency to repair itself. But the auto-repair mechanism can lead to the re-growth of a sequence. By providing desired genetic codes, sequence, which can replace the original sequence of genetic codes. By cutting a portion of genetic code from a long zipper and then replace that portion with a desired segment. The edited DNA is inserted in the place of the of embryonic DNA , placed to a suitable womb to complete further stages of development.
Future of CRISPER makes it controversial due to its many more uses than just to cure a person disease. Such an accessible approach of technology now a days can leads us to go for the production of super humans , with extra intelligence and physical power, that can change the gene pool. The controversies on ethical and social concerns. law enforcement requires law amendments or anew law and governance compatibility. After all , it’s not seems to ban or stop more working so we must start planning now for designer babies future.
Surveys has been conducted which reveals that public who knows about designer babies is more against it than ignoring, just because of ethical right and more discrimination and sects of society. While other group argues that it’s inevitable and we great heartedly should accept the new eras of science and technology. We should not cease science.
Authors: Ayesha Shafique and Arbab Zahra Students of Kinnaird College for Women University, Lahore. BS Genetics(Semester 3)