Editing our genes

Instead of snipping strands, they swapped DNA letters to correct Marfan Syndrome, an inherited disorder that affects connective tissue. Huang Xingxu, the lead author of the paper, which was published in Molecular Therapy , said it was done on 18 viable human embryos through in-vitro. Two of the embryos, however, exhibited unintended changes. All were destroyed after the experiment. In 2017, American biologist Shoukhrat Mitalipov used Crispr to repair a genetic mutation that could cause a deadly heart condition. It was done on embryos in such a way that the faulty gene would not be passed down the family tree. The findings are the focus of an ongoing debate, with several scientists sceptical of whether the gene was corrected. Can accuracy be guaranteed in early stage embryos? Bioethicists expressed concern over the clinical application of such research. Can we — and should we — control or dictate evolution? These are still early days in a new frontier of genome engineering. Researchers are only beginning to understand the power — and fallout — of gene editing. Studies have shown that edited cells can lack a cancer suppressing protein. As our understanding grows, we will have the potential to edit out genes that cause fatal diseases. We will perhaps one day have the potential to use the very same mechanisms to edit out undesirable traits in human beings. This raises the spectre of eugenics.

Source :  https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/editing-our-genes/article25043142.ece

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