In the United States, it is illegal for scientists to alter the genetic information a person has. This is also considered a wrong thing to do from a moral and ethical perspective. However, this situation was created in times when there was little information about gene editing. As of recently, the scientific community has been able to study and better understand how this would really work out. Back times, the idea of altering your genetic code would have created an image of a superhuman but with some faulty aspects too. However, new ethics report can change this view in the near future.
During the past years, scientists continued to learn new things and innovate in the gene editing field, despite the fact that they are not allowed to apply their findings in reality. As of recently, they designed a groundbreaking technique called CRISPR-Cas9. The precision with which scientists have come to alter disease genes in adult human cells is so high, that humanity has high chances to get rid of cancer once and for all. This kind of technique is capable of treating all kinds of conditions caused by genetic mutations.
On Tuesday, the National Academy of Sciences together with the National Academy of Medicine took into consideration the CRISP-Cas9 procedure. From now on, scientists can start with the human embryos and work their gene editing methods to avoid passing on the disease genes from parents to their child. This way, future generations might look at cancer and other serious disabilities and conditions only as a negative memory of the past.
This method is known as germline engineering. If parents accept this procedure, they can grow their biological children without the worry that they have chances to develop diseases such as Tay-Sachs, Huntington’s or beta thalassemia. Before this, there was a similar procedure yet rudimentary in nature. To avoid giving birth to children that carry the same faulty genes, scientists used to eliminate embryos that showed signs of such kind of mutations.
The new major report warns humanity that a world without gene editing might not take full advantage of science. China would probably be the first country to allow such procedures. While scientists worry about the resilience of U.S. and some European countries regarding this industry, they are sure that such breakthroughs will happen with or without their approval.
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