Genetically modified humans Human genetic experiments creates controversy

Splicing. A word defined in genetics as the action of joining or inserting a gene and/or a gene fragment into a cell.

As of recently, scientists from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China have reported successful modifications of non-viable embryos, which cannot develop live birth. This has sparked a heated debate over the ethics behind these experiments. I believe that these events were unethical.

While the intentions behind these genetic experiments were good, the technology/methods involved for this process as well as a good amount of information were still “insufficient” and should not be tampered with just yet.

Head researcher, Junjiu Huang, stated that, “Critics have noted that the low efficiencies and high number of off-target mutations could be specific to the abnormal embryos used in the study. [However] because there are no examples of gene editing in normal embryos there is no way to know if the technique operates differently in them.”

Researchers at the University used a method of gene splicing known as CRISPR/Cas9 in an attempt to possibly cure a potentially fatal disease known as beta thalassemia.

Some may argue that genetically modifying human embryos (as long as the methods are being used for medical treatment) was beneficial, although technically they were not wrong, this technology has just only recently emerged and was still well within its “infant days”, so to speak. There are many problems/ complications that could occur as a result of bioengineering.

The debate over human embryo editing is sure to continue for some time, however. CRISPR/Cas9 is known for its ease of use allowing more scientists to work towards improving on Huang’s paper. Although the mere 33 percent success rate during the experiment may lead to more questions.

After Huang and his team made their scientific breakthrough, they had to go to two different magazines before finally getting their work published in Protein and Cell. The magazines would not comment on their decision in part because of the ethical-objections surrounding such experiments.

For now, humans should leave genetics out of the lab and stick to the natural process.