It is very possible that genetically modified babies may soon become a reality. A team of researchers from China showed that a series of blood disorders caused by errors in the DNA could be fixed in the early stages of human embryos.
It is crucial that genetically modified human embryos are allowed in the future in order to better understand human genetics, says a group of experts.
The statement was released by the Hixton Group, ethics and science experts who work in a worldwide network. They say that at an early stage of the embryo’s development, the genetic code could be extremely valuable for scientific research.
Hixton Group acknowledges the fact that for many, genetically modified babies might be considered ‘morally unacceptable’, but they suggest that GM babies should not be allowed to be born yet.
“However, we acknowledge that when all safety, efficacy and governance needs are met, there may be morally acceptable uses of this technology in human reproduction.”, stated the group.
Future technologies could thus prevent various gene-related diseases in children, such as cystic fibrosis or other genes that lead to developing cancer.
The US National Institute of Health (NIH) refuses to provide money for the Hixton Group research involving the editing of human embryo genes.
Dr Francis Collins, NIH director, said that scientists have debated for many years on the topic of genetic modification in human embryos and that many agreed that it is a line that should not be crossed.
Hixton Group organised a meeting in Manchester where they confirmed that because of the rate at which technology evolves, in the medical field as well, a decision concerning embryo editing must be taken as soon as possible.
They stated that this technology could have an enormous potential and a great value to basic research and that at the moment it will not be used for human reproductive purposes.
Professor Emmanuelle Charpentier is of opinion that the human germline should not be manipulated just with the objective of changing some of the genetic traits.
Overall there is a stark contrast between the Hixton Group and the US National Institute of Health (NIH), each of them supporting a different cause.
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