Glossary Four

CRISPR:  “A gene editing technique in which CRISPR and the RNA segments and enzymes it produces are used to identify and modify specific DNA sequences in the genome of other organisms.” This technique of modifying DNA is now a serious health and ethics question being debated because CRISPR is also being tested on human cells. Bringing us to the topic of designer babies.

Designer Babies: The MIT Technology Review has reported the first testing of this method on human embryos in the US. Additionally, they report that the “three previous reports of editing human embryos were all published by scientists in China.” In order to avoid the ethical questions he did this outside the womb, and never implanted the eggs. Will this become a service we are sold in the near future?

Germline Engineering: Making CRISPR even more controversial is the long term consequences, because the changes made would be passed down. “Germ line is biologists’ jargon for the egg and sperm, which combine to form an embryo. By editing the DNA of these cells or the embryo itself, it could be possible to correct disease genes and pass those genetic fixes on to future generations.”

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