Friday, 24 April 2015

Chinese scientists genetically modify human embryos

This sounds straight out of a science fiction film.  This reportedly had been carried out by Chinese scientists.  Though the results were not outright successful, a beginning has been made.

Needless to say, something as controversial as this is bound to have its pro's and con's,

The single most important argument in its favour is that it eliminates diseases and would lead to birth of healthy babies.  This is quite a compelling factor to push for such studies.  Parents would no longer need to worry about the well being of their new born and their several associated complications.

On the negative front - it tantamounts to meddling with nature and would go against the natural way of life.  But ask any parent of a differently abled child and I am sure he would rather take this chance than let his child endure the agony for a life time.  So, this argument does not hold good and further research is the definite way forward.

The only real cons are two:-

1. How do we stop parents then from going for designer kids?  I would definitely want my children to look like Hollywood film stars - so what stops me from altering/replacing their genes? what are the socio-ethical considerations in that?  There is nothing wrong in that too!!! Just like a parent of differently abled child wants a normal one - a parent of normal child may want a child with movie star looks!!! Nothing wrong but what effect it will have on the society cannot  really be estimated now!!

2. The second and the more serious one is - what effect this genetic alteration/replacement will have on the future generations of the same child.  Will they lead to some abnormal mutations and lead to some strange babies being borne?  We already hear stories of a few abnormal babies who are largely attributed to genetic mutations as a result of pollution, but the genetic mutations as a result this gene therapy may produce such babies on a large scale.  However, it is only a 'may' and it will take decades after the treatment is perfected to know the results!!

In the short term atleast, this treatment is likely to bring joy to many parents.

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