Genetics is a branch of biology that involves the study of genes, heredity, and genetic variations. The research enables scientists to understand the genetic makeup of cells. This has resulted in many positive and negative impacts in the medical industry, and therefore this leads us to our research topic. Is genetic modification of embryos and genetic diseases worth the benefit? Genetic modification of embryos means making changes in embryo genes to introduce a new trait that would not occur in reality or turn off undesirable gene to make the organism healthier and fit. This process makes it possible to determine the characteristics of an organism by altering its genome. The process involves the following: turning off the defective gene, silencing an undesirable gene or introducing a foreign gene into the genetic makeup of an organism to come up with the most desirable trait.
So, is genetic modification worth the benefit? The process could have its good and bad sides. Genetic modification of embryos is yet to be legalized in most countries. Though it could amount to the greater good, some critics argue that this amounts to playing God. There are also significant concerns about possible high prices involved in the process, and there are fears only the rich will be able to pay the prices. Based on this topic, my opinion is that genetic modification is the way to go. The argument that natural is inherently good is based on fallacy because over the years we have witnessed generational diseases that affect millions of people which could be treated through genetic modification. According to scientists from the Institute of Hope, the same opinion has been raised in that embryo development could lead to safer and more successful treatments in the areas of fertility for example. This means that if well managed, genetic modification could reduce widespread human suffering globally by lowering diseases and introducing more desirable traits among human and also other living organisms.
Is the genetic modification of embryos attributes and genetic diseases worth the benefit
Genetic modification of embryos is on trial in some countries especially the U.S. The process as seen earlier involves alteration of DNA code of embryos to eradicate or correct some genes. To support these, genetic modification results in many advantages being protection from inherent diseases, healthier and prolonged lifespan,better manageable future and better looks. They are as discussed below:
Protection from inherent diseases
Genetic engineering has largely contributed to elimination of diseases. This has been possible as a result of genes manipulation through the use of biotechnology. The most recent technology, CRISPR where the DNA of a human embryo can be improved. According to a report from the National Academy of Medicine, U.S(2017), the genetics changes that are made are inherited by the subsequent generation which if done well, they may result in future positive traits in humans. However it also argues that the results could have contentious impacts and may not be ethically right. It goes ahead to propose that gene editing should be considered when there are no other alternatives in treating serious genetic disorders. Inherent diseases are passed from parents to offsprings. Genetic engineering can therefore be used to prevent the flow of these disorders and hence result to a generation free of inherent diseases. Getting rid of these disorders could be the biggest achievement in the history of medical science. Treating genetic mutation could be among the solution to treating genetic disorders as its known to cause many diseases and syndromes. Among the illness that can be managed by genetic modification include some types of genetic blindness, heart attacks, Sickle cell anemia, HIV and Hemophilia.
Healthier and prolonged lifespan
Biomedical gerontology is the science behind the study of slowing or reversing the aging process. In his efforts, Craig Venter(2014), he founded a company, Human Longevity Inc. which is concerned with scientific studies and research to end aging through cell therapy and genomics. The process of aging is characterized by damages to tissues, cells, and macromolecules initiated by genomic instability. To solve this, gene therapy to reverse the aging process has largely expanded the lifespan. With reduced disease inherent diseases, on the other hand, it has led to increased lifespan among children as they don’t face premature deaths and the society at large. Genetic engineering has also resulted in improved immunity making human less vulnerable to diseases. With better immunity, improved life as a result of ant-aging care and healthier bodies, gene editing is the key to prolonged life.
Through genetic modification, future is made better. The future of any society or a country is based on its future generation. Genetic engineering technology has made it possible to screen children before birth. Through this way, potential disorders can be detected and treated accordingly before birth thereby protecting the children from harsh realities of future. The results are a healthy population which can rapidly develop. The biggest possible growth in genetic engineering much awaited is that where a fetus with genetic defects can be treated through genetic therapy to come up with a Designer baby. Here a couple can choose the features of the unborn baby. According to Carolyn A(2012, recent developments have made it possible to scan and test for every embryonic cell of harmful and defective cells for example addiction to alcohol, obesity, lactose intolerance, heart problems and genes linked to intelligence. These genes can be technically altered to come up with the fittest human species.
Better looks, health, and intelligence
Genetic engineering has greatly assisted in correcting defects in looks and intelligence for offerings. Through CRISPR-Cas9, longer stretches of DNA can be altered to delete, add or replace any sequence of desired DNA. Genetic engineering has also made it possible for parents to refine their genetic content in their DNA to change their looks, mental power, physical capabilities and change skin, eyes and hair color through a simple injection.
Considering the many positive impacts associated with genetic modification of the embryo, there have significant concerns on ethical grounds of the process. There are also negative impacts as far as the process is concerned. Many researchers have questioned the well being of the genetic engineering of the embryos, and the following concerns have been raised.
On ethical grounds, genetic modification has raised more concerns than good. First and for most, it has been attributed to playing God. According to England Journal of Medicine(2015), expresses the need for being cautious in implementing these transformative research. Playing God here means that scientists perform roles that are meant for God and God alone. This has resulted in fears; people fear the impacts that this knowledge would lead us into. Genetic modification has also been significantly attributed to the loss of genetic diversity among human beings.
On intelligence, intelligence is a vague concept. Studies have shown that intelligence does not solely depend on genes alone. It has therefore proven hard to identify genes associated with intelligence and for that matter its easier to facilitate the growth of neurons and modify chemistry level but its very hard to alter the connections inside the brain. This has shown that its next to impossible to improve the intelligence level of an adult. However, intelligence levels could considerably be raised in embryonic fetuses hence the designer babies. But is these fair? Most people or parents would object this because it means that it would result in a very genius generation. This would make parents to look pathetic and also create a generation where people think the same.
The embryonic genetic modification could result in severe impacts in the area of immunity. Our genome is enormous in that they consist of approximately 4billions base pairs. Out of these, only a few have been linked to diseases and resistance and traits. It would, therefore, take so many years before scientists can conclusively agree on the rest. This means that gene modification could backfire and result in adverse impacts. For example in the event a disease or disorder, we could introduce something new, a deadly disease that could prove hard to eliminate. In the case of Designers babies, this could to other complications associated with pregnancies like still birth, miscarriages or premature births. According to the journal on Energy Conserve For The Future(2016), some of the diseases exist by luck, and we should have them otherwise, the world will be overpopulated. In fact , currently, living longer is already causing problems in the world. In the long run, this could lead to problems that may be unsolvable.
According to the Major Report(2017), most scientists are agreement that much is needed before clinical trials on “Germline” therapies can be done to a human. The report also stresses the importance of educating the public, scientists, and patients on the benefits as well as risks involved in the process. Genetic modification of the embryo is a topic full of controversy. Most people have it a bit worrying, and the question of it going too far in the future come to place. However, with the increased rates of genetic disorders, genetic engineering will go far.
Most countries around the globe have laws governing the genetic modification of embryo. These laws govern and highlight what is allowed as far as the genetic embryonic modification is concerned. However, the laws vary depending on countries.
The embryonic genetic modification involves altering the genetic makeup of an embryo to make it more desirable regarding generic content. This will assist the embryo in being more immune to diseases. The process can also involve another aspect such as intelligence, looks, the color of the skin and eyes among other traits that could be enhanced. The process is yet to be legalized in most countries because of the many ethical concerns that have been raised regarding the process. Morally, some critics argue in support of the process while other parties especially the religious leaders, criticize the process saying it amounts to playing God.
As far as am concerned, genetic modification is here to stay. With the increased rates of genetic disorders, scientists are spending more time in studying genetics so that they assist in solving this menace which has affected families globally. The process is characterized by some benefits which range from increased immunity, healthier and longer lifespan among others. Despite the minimal challenges, the genetic embryonic modification has proven to be the best achievement so far in the medicine fraternity. Various killer diseases have been solved with parents getting genetic advice based on their future offspring. Governments should uphold these science and assist their citizens so as to solve various medical problems associated with genetics. However, laws and acts governing the process should be strictly followed to minimize risks associated with this process which if not checked, they could be detrimental.