Biological researchers inform that was is known as genome editing might become a reality in the future. This endeavor presupposes the modification of human genes as a way to fight genetic diseases. The technique is already being used in the development of new treatments for many illnesses.
The National Academy of Science and National Academy of Medicine announced that the scientific and medical worlds are not quite ready yet for such a technique. Altering sperm, eggs, and embryos so that a baby does not inherit a disease that is genetically transmitted in the family would raise many ethical concerns.
The concerns target a possible genome enhancement that should not be allowed. However, the scientists can learn how to transfer these alterations from generation to generation. Also, they will allow alterations only if they combat serious diseases and the whole process would take place under strict supervision and caution.
Alta Charo, bioethicist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, declared that extreme caution did not necessarily mean prohibition. The team of scientists working on the technique have already identified some circumstances under which it should be approved. They should not try genome editing for other purposes than healing diseases and enhancing specific traits, such as physical strength.
The scientific and medical academies have already organized meetings in which they discussed the permissibility of the technique and informed people on its advantages and what it consisted of.
Genome editing allows scientists to manipulate genes. They can turn them on and off or modify them by adding or removing parts of cells. There are several methods to do this, but the easiest and cheapest one is CRISPR-Cas9, which scientists are already performing research on.
When it comes to what this technique can do, researchers have discovered that it can treat a range of diseases, from hemophilia to several types of cancer. They discovered how genes can propel the development of diseases by performing experiments on human cells or animal cells that they infected with human diseases.
The researchers hope that they will be able to perform genome editing in 10 years or maybe even less. This long period of time is given by the fact that researchers are cautious and they want to optimize the technology so that it gives only the expected results, without clashing with the ethics.
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