Gene editing is not only a scientific concept, but also an ethical issue for many bioethicists and scientists from around the world. American medical ethicist, Arthur L. Caplan has said that, ‘A moral principle in genetic testing is that it should always be done with the consent of the individual. No one wants someone snooping into his DNA’. It’s a true statement in all its glory and hence gene editing is an ethical issue for some. The main concern behind every discussion is that will the changes made in the germline or genetic makeup of a human being be passed on to the future generations. This study focusses on these issues and the challenging technology th
Gene editing is not only a scientific concept, but also an ethical issue for many bioethicists and scientists from around the world. American medical ethicist, Arthur L. Caplan has said that, ‘A moral principle in genetic testing is that it should always be done with the consent of the individual. No one wants someone snooping into his DNA’. It’s a true statement in all its glory and hence gene editing is an ethical issue for some. The main concern behind every discussion is that will the changes made in the germline or genetic makeup of a human being be passed on to the future generations. This study focusses on these issues and the challenging technology that CRISPR is.
For more than three decades, researchers have had the capability of altering the genomes of different types of animals. By the means of viruses to modify DNA arrangements, researchers’ could make a scope of transgenic animals with improved reasoning, physical and social features. Researchers at the Case Western Reserve University utilized viruses to modify a gene known as PEPCK-A in mice in the year 2007. The subsequent transgenic mice could keep running for six kilometers without taking any break which was about 30 times more than the capacity of normal mouse.
However, initial methods used for genetic engineering were inaccurate as well as disorganized. Thus, these tools never could possibly be clinically helpful in modifying human DNA.
Furthermore, past few years have been evident of several effectual & accurate developments in the procedures of genetic engineering. In addition, all these procedures have been collectively given a name as ‘gene editing technologies’ in order to reveal their augmented exactness over the erstwhile approaches. Up till now one of the most dominant gene editing tool is the CRISPR-cas9 system. This particular technology comprises of two sections known as a DNA cutting enzyme (the cas9 section) & a guide sequence (the CRISPR section).
As soon as, the main DNA binds along with a complementary DNA sequence in the cells- it moves in, it activates the cas9 enzyme to cut, creating a twofold sided disruption to the DNA arrangement. Besides, CRISPR-cas9 is utilized by bacteria’s for protecting against viruses, breaking the viral DNA to small as well as non-functional sections.
A team at UC Berkeley presented that CRISPR-cas9 could possibly be altered in the labs so that it can aim virtually at any DNA arrangement in the year 2012. This permitted the researchers for cutting DNA virtually from anywhere in the genome. Also, they confirmed that once the DNA were broken, the DNA healing mechanisms could possibly be enlisted to add new genetic material to the site of disruption. This also provided scientists with the capability to remove, increase and amend DNA arrangements.
Additionally, news that the CRISPR has been used for the very first time to edit human embryos. This was the first instance of the gene editing or GGE of the human germline.
Further, investigation piloted in China, targeted the gene accountable for generating part of the hemoglobin molecule with assorted success. Moreover, the United Kingdom turned out to be the first nation to formally accept the gene-editing study in human embryos, in the second month of 2016.
Quite a number of public awareness groups, for instance UNESCO (the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) had called for the global ban over any gene-editing investigation in human embryos. However, the United States established National Institutes of Health continued performing the research. Thus, this has resulted in the rapid growth of gene-editing tools, administrations across the world must review their governing frameworks for generative technologies. These days, GGE is greatly restricted because of the regulation or by rules in several countries. Nevertheless, there are solid ethical explanations in favor of pursuing GGE.
Several syndromes have a basic genetic mechanism or a strong genetic influence. In a battle against some Mendelian syndromes, the development of gene editing could be a significant tool. Moreover, in certain cases, the only way people could avoid fatal diseases in their children is by utilizing GGE. Also in forthcoming years, GGE can offer a significant tool in a battle against polygenic syndromes such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease that are counted amongst the prominent roots of death globally.
Presently GGE technology is at a very early stage, thus should only be utilized for the aforementioned therapeutic purposes if its safety is proved through the research. However, it is alike all other therapeutic technologies in this concern. But the major concern been faced by several governments is not whether the technology ought to be used or not, but then whether GGE ought to be legalized for research or not.
Now, for present judicial bans over GGE to be acceptable on ethical grounds, there needs to be noteworthy ethical reasons against its usage in research or else reproduction. However, some scientists believe that GGE should not be accepted due to the ethical concerns about primary human embryos, considering that the embryos have similar ethical importance as individuals. Nevertheless, this situation is extensively unpredictable by how the other acknowledged technologies are measured. While several authorities license the human embryo research that includes demolition of embryo for research intended at improving fertility.
Then again, even if it is assumed that primary human embryos did have a high ethical eminence that cannot be counted against all arrangements of GGE research. As a few of GGE research can be done totally on gametes. For instance, scientists can attempt to edit the gene that is the reason for CFTR, cystic fibrosis, in spermatogonial stem cells as well as derive sperm carrying the modified DNA.
A number of arguments counter to GGE technology focusses not on its usage in research, but its usage in reproduction. Though some scientists are of the opinion that any ethical concern against GGE in reproduction may lead to concern against its usage in research, since they believe that the research of GGE will certainly lead to reproductive functions.
Another major concern about GGE technology is that it is unjust. For instance, an American ecologist, author & journalist Bill McKibben expresses, “These would be mere consumer decisions — but that also means that they would benefit the rich far more than the poor. They would take the gap in power, wealth, and education that currently divides both our society and the world at large, and write that division into our very biology.”
However, there are certain techniques that might aid GGE in remedying prevailing discriminations. The most evident techniques in which GGEs might remedy discrimination is by lessening the rate of disease, as a lot of diseases are instigated only by quirks of the ecology. For instance, several individuals randomly develop certain types of illnesses, whereas others do not. These randomly developed diseases can either cause pain, reduce lifespan or even limit an individual’s ability to follow their objectives.
Therefore, there is a simple ethical case for permitting GGE, as it has got direct effectiveness in research as well as both short & long term probable in remedy. Moreover, governments across the globe must radically modify their governing method to GGE, at least, research into GGE should be legalized even if at this level it is banned for producing babies since the science is in its initial stages.