The Human: Version 2.0

by calin.buzdugan on September 17, 2013 - 6:40pm

This article attracted me at first because it was in the same domain as my first blog post. I am usually drawn to read articles that discuss medical research because these stories often have two sides so they never have a single point of view, which is always interesting. In this article, the debate focuses on "designing" humans.

In other words, the publisher discusses how, one day, parents will be given the option to change multiple features on their baby such as their eyes color or their height for instance. Parent will also be able to change their children's genetic code in order to spare them from genetic disorders. That is the intriguing part. It is a giant leap in terms of research biology, but, at the same time, you can not play God. Human reproduction is a complex process and scientists do not have the full awareness and potential to perfectly control these precise genes modifications in order to ameliorate the baby's human system. Obviously, there are some unknown consequences that can result from playing games and changing gene codes. So, should future babies be genetically engineered in order to take out the "bad part" of their heredity?

    There is a line that must not be crossed between what is in nature and what comes from the human knowledge. Playing with the genetic code of a human being is not safe for now because we do not have full control of these actions. It is too much of a deal if something bad would happen to an unborn baby because scientists would have tried to change his/her bad genes. We are trying to create an utopia where people that have "perfect" physical and psychological traits with a low risk of complex diseases. Maybe if it sounds wonderful, this could lead to other problems, such as overpopulation, which will increase exponentially and cause a huge disaster (resources and space available).

    On the other side, genetic engineering is a huge step for human progress because it may be the solution in curing important diseases that are passed from generation to generation. It is not like scientist will ban natural sex, they will only help with the selection of genetic luggage of the future babies. However, genetic engineering is further down the road and we are not yet ready yet to fully use it. Scientist talk about a middle road that is already possible: mitochondrial transfer. The baby would then have a father ,and two mother: the "natural" one and the donor who offered her healthy mitochondria to the baby in order to avoid passing the bad mitochondria of the original mother to her baby.

Therefore, should scientist be able to play with the genetic code of unborn babies in order to select the best genes possible for their future?

Article link: http://www.livescience.com/27206-genetic-engineering-babies-debate.html
For further explanation on the mitochondrial transfer: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/3-parent-fertility-treatments-planned-in-br...

Comments

This topic raises a lot my interest, because I found interesting the technological advances that the human can create. However, we do not put limits to our research, so its create dilemma like this one. I think that scientific should be able to change the genetic code of unborn babies, for maladies, but for unnecessary use, like superficial physical parts (eyes color, hair color, etc), I do not think that it is very useful. Also, I do not think that it must be used to add genes of a second mother, because it is superficial, not vital. I think that if we can cure some diseases at a young age, it must be done. I think that, if it is not cure at a young age, it will be done later on, so the sooner is the better.
As Calin said, we are not God, but if think in this optic, we should not cure any diseases, so I think that if we can cure malformations or a future cancer at a young age (even a unborn baby) it is a great thing. Moreover, on an economic level, curing a young baby take less time than a therapies that are used for adults. On the other hand, I agree that if we change every little detail to make our perfect child, it will be too much and ruin the beauty of life and uniqueness that every living species have. However, like I said, if parents have the choice to have a child with a physical problem (malformation) or a child with the Down syndrome, I think that it will change the life of many parents. I need to mention that it will be accessible, not obligatory, so if some parents want a child without knowing how he will be or if he will have diseases, it will be up to them. Finally, our technology is not yet there, and will not be there tomorrow. I think that it must be 99% safe to be used for humans and many tests need to be done.
I think that the arguments of Calin are well detail and really represent the two ways that the problematic/topic can be seen.
I propose you to see this article http://healthland.time.com/2012/06/06/an-unborn-baby-gets-its-dna-sequen... , which the author gives also is opinion on this topic. This article http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/time-to-lead/decoding-the-d... expain what is a genome, a good thing to know when we talk of DNA.