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Chinese Genetically Engineering Human Embryos

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by rocketsjudoka, Apr 24, 2015.

  1. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member

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    Still only in the very early experimental stage but many are worried this is crossing an ethical boundary. I think it will be inevitable that human genetic engineering will take place. There will be too much pressure to first start with treating genetic diseases and then for things like looks and physical abilities. I think we are very much on the threshold of a brave new world with very uncertain outcomes.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/sci...by-genetically-engineering-human-embryos.html

    China shocks world by genetically engineering human embryos
    Critics warned that China was becoming the ‘Wild West’ of genetic research

    China has been ordered to ‘rein in’ scientists who have edited the DNA of human embryos for the first time, a practice banned in Europe.

    In a world’s first, researchers at the Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou confirmed they had engineered embryos to modify the gene responsible for the fatal blood disorder thalassaemia.

    The team, led by Junjiu Huang attempted to head off fears of eugenics by claiming the embryos were ‘non-viable’ and could never had become babies.

    But critics warned that China was becoming the ‘Wild West’ of genetic research saying it was the first step towards designer children and called for a worldwide ban on the practice.

    The work was reported in the journal Protein and Cell after the prestigious science journals Nature and Science refused to publish the study on ethical grounds.

    "This news emphasises the need for an immediate global ban on the creation of GM designer babies,” said Human Genetics Alert Director, Dr David King.

    “It is critical that we avoid a eugenic future in which the rich can buy themselves a baby with built-in genetic advantages.

    “It is entirely unnecessary since there are already many ethical ways to avoid thalassaemia. This research is a classic example of scientific careerism - assuring one's place in the history books even though the research is unnecessary and unethical."

    The team has used a gene-editing technique known as CRISPR/Cas9 which was discovered by scientists at MIT.

    It works by capitalising on the fact that bacteria attack viruses by snipping away part of their genetic code, effectively dismembering the virus. The CRISPR technique uses a bacterially derived protein to cut-away a particular gene, which is then replaced or repaired by another molecule introduced at the same time.

    The technique has been used in adult cells and animal models but never in human embyos.

    Advocates of gene editing say that it could eradicate devastating inherited disease. But others are worried that it crosses an ethical line, allowing children to be genetically engineered. And because the genetic changes are happening to embryos the changes will be passed down to future generations.

    Huang and his colleagues set out to see if the procedure could replace a gene in a single-cell fertilized human embryo; in principle, all cells produced as the embryo developed would then have the repaired gene.

    The Chinese team used embryos they obtained from the fertility clinics had been created for use in IVF but had an extra set of chromosomes, following fertilization by two sperm, which stops them resulting in a live birth.

    They injected 86 embryos with the Cas9 protein and left them for two days to allow the gene-editing to take place.

    • Genetically engineering 'ethical' babies is a moral obligation, says Oxford professor

    Of the 71 embryos that survived, 54 were genetically tested. This revealed that just 28 were successfully spliced, and only a fraction of those contained the replacement genetic material.

    They also found a number of unexpected mutations in genes which should not have been effected by the technique.

    British scientists said that no more experiments should be carried out until there had been an international agreement on whether the technique was safe and ethical.

    Prof Shirley Hodgson, Professor of Cancer Genetics, St George’s University of London, said: “I think that this is a significant departure from currently accepted research practice. Can we be certain that the embryos that the researchers were working on were indeed non-viable?

    "Any proposal to do germline genetic manipulation should be very carefully considered by international regulatory bodies before it should be considered as a serious research prospect."

    Dr Philippa Brice, of the health policy think-tank the PHG Foundation, added: “This story underlines the urgent necessity for international dialogue over the ethics of germline gene editing in human embryos, well in advance of any progression towards theoretical clinical application.

    "Recent calls for a moratorium on any such research to allow time for expert and public consideration of what is and is not ethically, socially and indeed legally acceptable with respect to human germline genetic modification should definitely be heeded.”

    British biologist Edward Lanphier, told Nature “we need to pause this research and make sure we have a broad based discussion about which direction we are going here.”

    George Daley, a stem-cell biologist at Harvard Medical School in Boston added: "The study is a landmark, as well as a cautionary tale.

    "Their study should be a stern warning to any practitioner who thinks the technology is ready for testing to eradicate disease genes."

    Huang said he had abandoned the current project to go back to working out how to minimise the unexpected mutations in adults cells and animals.

    However at least four groups in China are believed to be currently working on genetically modifying human embryos.
     
  2. Teen Wolf

    Teen Wolf Member

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  3. Air Langhi

    Air Langhi Contributing Member

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    I think we all know what is going to happen. You will have two classes of people: Super Humans and normal humans. Rich people will modify their kids DNA, people who can't afford it won't. You will have people with even more advantages. Why not not cut through all this ethics BS and just let the inevitable happen. There will be some good that can come out. We can just remove a lot of the know genetic defects. Obviously new ones will pop up since nature likes to do that, but I think a lot of known ones can be fixed.
     
  4. thumbs

    thumbs Contributing Member

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    Uhmmm ... new models need better footwork.
     
  5. Falcons Talon

    Falcons Talon Contributing Member

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    [​IMG]
     
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  6. Andre0087

    Andre0087 Member

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    For every action there is a reaction. We don't want to go down a road in which we have no idea where it leads. I completely disagree with your statement.
     
  7. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    I get the sense that, assuming I live a relatively long life, I'm gonna be pretty ok with not being here for some of this stuff.
     
  8. Falcons Talon

    Falcons Talon Contributing Member

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    Hey MadMax...

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Air Langhi

    Air Langhi Contributing Member

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    You don't believe genetic engineering is future? Its like the head of IBM saying we will have only 5 computers in the world. It is the future. You can accept it or stick to your existing business like newspapers and slowly die out.
     
  10. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    Wait!! Is there gonna be a Death Star? If there's gonna be a Death Star I totes wanna stick around for that!! :)

    Of course...that's no natural satellite of a planet.
     
  11. Bäumer

    Bäumer Contributing Member

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    Just don't go to Alderaan.
     
  12. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    But Alderaan is peaceful. They have no weapons.
     
  13. fchowd0311

    fchowd0311 Contributing Member

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    [​IMG]
     
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  14. ThatBoyNick

    ThatBoyNick Member

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    Aw yeah gonna GMO my kids so they can be 6'5 basketball superstars. I will force them to live my dream.
     
  15. percicles

    percicles Contributing Member

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  16. dback816

    dback816 Member

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    What good is being 6'5 when every other dude is 6'5 at minimal?

    Soon it'll be a battle of giants, in every sense of the word.
     
  17. pirc1

    pirc1 Contributing Member

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    I think human race will either be genetically changed to become super humans (X men) or combined with machines to become cyborgs in the future, maybe both. It is coming and I doubt anyone can stop it, at least I do not have to worry about such things.
     
  18. marky :)

    marky :) Member

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    Or both! Superhumans vs cyborgs.
     
  19. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member

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    I agree with Air Langhi. This isn't something I would welcome and I think the implications of genetically engineering could be disastrous. Brave New World, Gattaca and other sci-fi shows the dangers of a society of genetically engineered humans. Technology like this though will be almost impossible to bottle up. Just look at the popularity of things like cosmetic surgery, steroids and etc.. Once people find they can use genetics to improve their offspring unscrupulous doctors will do it. Eventually people will do it just so they can make sure their descendents can compete leaving behind those who can't afford it.
     
  20. Amiga

    Amiga 80s
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    Yeap. I want to see horrible diseases and mental problems at birth eliminated. If the price of that is also "super human", I probably would accept that but I think it's Hollywood to think that we end up with super human race. If it even happen, it's going to more of an outliner and even likely not socially accepted than anything. I would said the chance of the military creating fighting human would be greater.

    I thing the scientific community and world government can work toward the "good" cause. There is no way you can prevent someone doing something crazy, but that's not a reason to not see the potential good of this and aim for that. Leave it undefined and totally up to judgement and I think you increase the chance of creating problems... so, get together, define ethical guidelines and maybe even some type of international watchdog / approval body for generic modification of humans.
     

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