Designer Babies

Trinity Ikner - Vangen Hour 3

My Question

What technology is being developed that could lead to designer babies, and what are the challenges?

What Are Designer Babies?

By definition, designer babies are, 'a baby whose genetic makeup has been selected in order to eradicate a particular defect or to ensure that a particular gene is present'. This means that designer babies are babies that have their traits, also called genetic makeup, picked for them to avoid certain defects or diseases. The child's genetic makeup can also be chosen to have a different trait, like a specific hair or eye color.

The Technologies

Technologies used to create designer babies are called CRISPR-Cas9 (Called CRISPR for short), invitro fertalization, preimplantation genetic diagnosis, and mitochondrial transfer.

How They Work

CRISPR-Cas9 edits the DNA in the embryo before birth. It corrects diseases like Alzheimer's, cancer, and cystic fibrosis. In vitro fertilization specially selects traits and can also prevent diseases. Preimplantation genetic diagnosis selects embryos that have ideal traits before implantation. Finally, mitochondrial transfer uses three parents. They get 23 chromosomes from the father and the mother, but they use another mother with healthy mitochondria. This results in a baby with traits from their mother and father with an exception of a healthy mitochondria.

The Challenges

With these technologies, there comes some challenges that provide obstacles for this development. With the CRISPR system, it only work forty percent of the time, there could be disease mutations in the genetic codes, which could include cystic fibrosis and an increased risk of cancer, the embryos could carry dangerous and unwanted genes. With invitro fertilization, it is slow, difficult, and expensive. Preimplantation genetic diagnosis could have negative social repercussion effects, and finally, mitochondrial transfer is inappropriate in some cases.

Bibliography

Regalado, Antonio. "Engineering the Perfect Baby." MIT Technology Review. MIT Technology, 5 Mar. 2015. Web. 4 Jan. 2016. <http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/535661/engineering-the-perfect-baby/>.

Ly, Sarah. "The Embryo Project Encyclopedia." Ethics of Designer Babies. Arizona State University, 25 Sept. 2013. Web. 04 Jan. 2016.

<https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/ethics-designer-babies>.

Gallagher, James. "'Designer Babies' Debate Should Start, Scientists Say." BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation, 19 Jan. 2015. Web. 4 Jan. 2016. <http://www.bbc.com/news/health-30742774>.

Gebhart, Fred. "Designer Babies Could Be Right Around the Corner." Healthlines RSS News. Healthlines RSS News, 18 Dec. 2014. Web. 04 Jan. 2016. <http://www.healthline.com/health-news/will-designer-babies-soon-be-a-reality-121814#1>.