from the urls-we-dig-up dept
The concept of creating superhumans using genetic engineering has been around for quite some time in science fiction, but now that it’s almost becoming a practical thing to do, there are some scientists calling for a moratorium on experimenting with germline engineering until we can debate the issue and come to some consensus on what should be considered ethical. Treating diseases with drugs/radiation/whatever may let an individual patient live longer, but messing with embryonic DNA could have more lasting effects because whatever genetic edits are made will be passed down to future generations (well, unless genetically modified humans are purposely made sterile…). This kind of medicine is going to be controversial for the foreseeable future, but it’s going to be done somewhere as the science and technology behind it gets better.
- Chinese researchers at Sun Yat-Sen University have already experimented with germline engineering, editing the DNA of human fertilized eggs to remove a blood disease called beta-thalassemia. Their method reveals that a lot more work needs to be done for germline engineering to become a reliable process for treating genetic diseases. They used abnormal embryos that could not be grown further for this particular study, but it’s entirely conceivable that future experiments could be done with viable embryos. [url]
- Some optimists are not too concerned with the issues of creating superhumans. Perhaps superhumans will be benevolent and create a better world, but there’s no guarantee that super intelligence correlates with super empathy or super kindness. There are no guarantees in life, period, but perhaps we can slow down the rate of problems we create…? [url]
- A three-parent IVF procedure can prevent certain mitochondrial disorders. Children born using this technique have DNA from their “traditional” parents PLUS mitochondrial DNA from a donor mother, and there are presumably some 3-parent teenagers walking around the world right now. [url]
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