Is It Ethical to Genetically Engineer Babies for Designer Purposes'?

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  • Topic: DNA, Genetics, Genetic disorder
  • Pages : 16 (5518 words )
  • Download(s) : 331
  • Published : February 5, 2012
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Is it ethical to
engineer babies
for designer

Pg. Number

Research Review6-8




Genetic Engineering is a notorious and complex subject, burdened with ethical and moral debates, packed with fascinating science. Everything begins with DNA, (Deoxyribonucleic acid). We are all made up of DNA. Without understanding DNA, genetic engineering or any sort of alteration within engineering of DNA is unfeasible. If you do ask someone, (what is a designer baby?), who does not know the science behind designer babies or genetic engineering, they may say it is a creation against the nature as we are dismantling natures characteristics and deciding to adjust the faults. What if, by modestly taking a tablet containing new hormones, you could have unconventional athletic powers and run like an Olympic athlete? What if, by injecting yourself with stem cells and changing your genetic makeup, you could have the baby you wanted? Would you do it? If you and others did, what would our society become? You might think if this is this science fiction? But think again, during the last few decades, research in genetic engineering has been advancing at lightning speeds. Recent innovations have presented us with unanticipated promises, and at the same time with complex dilemmas.

‘Designer babies’ is an advantage reproductive technology that allows the parents and doctors to screen embryos for genetic disorders and select healthy embryos .The fear is that in the future we may be able to use genetic technologies to modify embryos and choose desirable or cosmetic characteristics. ‘Designer babies’ is a term used by journalists to describe this frightening scenario. It is not a term used by scientists. These techniques allow doctors and parents to reduce the chance that a child will be born with a genetic disorder. At the moment it is only legally possible to carry out two types of advanced reproductive technologies on humans. The first involves choosing the type of sperm that will fertilise an egg: this is used to determine the sex and the genes of the baby. The second technique screens embryos for a genetic disease: only selected embryos are implanted back into the mother's womb. This is known as Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD). Recently scientists have made rapid advances in our knowledge of the human genome and in our ability to modify and change genes. In the future we may be able to "cure" genetically inherited diseases in embryos by replacing faulty sections of DNA with healthy DNA. This is called germ line therapy and is carried out on an egg, sperm or a tiny fertilised embryo. Such therapy has successfully been done on animal embryos but at present it is illegal to do this in humans. However, it is legal to modify the faulty genes in the cells of a grown child or an adult to cure diseases like cystic fibrosis - this is called body gene therapy. Today it is possible to choose the sex of the embryo using advanced reproductive techniques during IVF. Doctors can do this using one of two methods. The first method is to sort out a sample of the father's sperm and only fertilise the egg with either 'male' sperm or 'female' sperm. The second method is Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), which is used to screen-out embryos likely to have a genetic disease. PGD takes place during IVF where the sperm fertilises the egg in a ‘test-tube’ in a laboratory. The fertilised egg grows for a few days before a single cell is removed and tested to find out either the sex of the embryo or if abnormal genes are present. Surprisingly, removing one cell does not seem to affect the embryo's development. Genetic screening of embryos using the techniques of sperm selection and PGD are sophisticated ways to avoid a growing number of genetic diseases but they have provoked many ethical arguments. Scientists are...
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