DESIGNER BABIES

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• DESIGNER BABIES – Genetically modified for beauty, intelligence or to be free of disease – have long been a topic of science fiction
 • It is the latest development of “Crispr technology” – which is a more precise way of editing DNA which has made designer babies possible
  ○ It was named one of the top breakthroughs in 2013, hailed as the start of a new era of genetics & is being used in a wide-range of experiments in thousands of laboratories
  ○ it is also possible to use the technology to insert new pieces of genetic code at the site of the cut

It has reopened questions about genetically modifying people
 • Advanced reproductive techniques involve using InVitro Fertilisation or IVF to fertilise eggs with sperm in ‘test-tubes’ outside the mother’s body in a laboratory
• The overall birth rate is declining especially in developed countries mainly coz women are putting off childbearing until later in life & hence IVF has become a more important tool for reproduction in them
 • Advanced reproductive techniques involve using InVitro Fertilisation or IVF to fertilise eggs with sperm in ‘test-tubes’ outside the mother’s body in a laboratory
 • All those IVF births offer “features” old-fashioned conception does not. You can screen for genetic abnormalities & diseases as well as to choose the gender of your children
 • These techniques allow doctors & 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 called Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)
 • Recently scientists have made rapid advances in our knowledge of the human genome & in our ability to modify & change genes
  ○ In the future we may be able to “cure” geneticy diseases in embryos by replacing faulty sections of DNA with healthy DNA. This is called germ line therapy & 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 cell gene therapy

Shilpa Sharad’s Blog

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