Designer babies could be approved in future, says medical ethics panel

Pearl Mccarthy
July 20, 2018

However, it is now against the law to establish a pregnancy using embryos or germ cells that have been altered in this way, or to keep a human embryo (genome edited or otherwise) alive in the laboratory for longer than 14 days. If the law were to ever change, genome editing should be strictly regulated, it added.

He said: "We have had worldwide bans on eugenic genetic engineering for 30 years".

"But this group of scientists thinks it knows better, even though there is absolutely no medical benefit to this whatever", King told the BBC.

We may have just moved one step closer to designer babies. "Do you suppose they want GM babies?"

Uncertainty exists over the types of things genome editing may be able to achieve, but given how the field has advanced or how much further it can spread, potential use of genome editing to influence characteristic of future generations has countless possibilities, which could have impacts on individuals, families, and society.

Director of the Nuffield Council Hugh Whittall said consideration needed to be given to groups whose conditions might be "edited out" of the population by the removal of a genetic variant. It will also have to be after a broad and inclusive public debate over the (likely) controversial issue.

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Doctors can already change the DNA, but their methodology still cannot be called ideal, one of the proteins of scissors can remove a lot of code.

While effective, the process is less than ideal and can cut out too much DNA, experts have found.

In the near future, it might be possible to correct the DNA of embryos carrying the gene for Huntington's disease or cystic fibrosis. The DNA that gets damaged while the procedure is being conducted could later pass on to future generations as well.

English the Nuffield Council considers that edit DNA is acceptable, if such operations are to be done in the interests of the child. A study published yesterday (July 16) in the journal Nature Biotechnology found that CRISPR-Cas9 could be causing more harm than scientists previously thought, by unintentionally deleting, rearranging or mutating large chunks of DNA.

Professor Karen Yeung of the Nuffield Council said, 'There is potential for heritable genome editing interventions to be used at some point in the future in assisted human reproduction, as a means for people to secure certain characteristics in their children.

Even once legalised, the Council have recommended genome editing should only be licensed on a case-by-case basis and under strict regulation and monitoring. "It plays into an ongoing - and worldwide - discussion".

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