A leading American scientist opposes the latest development in human embryo research.
For the first time in the U.S., scientists have edited the genes of human embryos for the reported purpose of helping human beings avoid being born with inherited diseases and medical conditions (see sidebar). Dr. David Prentice, vice president and research director of Charlotte Lozier Institute, acknowledges that genetic engineering and genetic therapy for someone who's already born could be effective and done ethically – but he's concerned about the strong potential for harm.
First embryo gene-repair holds promise for inherited disease
WASHINGTON (AP) – In a first, researchers safely repaired a disease-causing gene in human embryos, targeting a heart defect best known for killing young athletes – a big step toward one day preventing a list of inherited diseases.
In a surprising discovery, a research team led by Oregon Health and Science University reported Wednesday that embryos can help fix themselves if scientists jump-start the process early enough.
It's laboratory research only, nowhere near ready to be tried in a pregnancy. But it suggests that scientists might alter DNA in a way that protects not just one baby from a disease that runs in the family, but his or her offspring as well. And that raises ethical questions. Read more...
"When you start playing around with the genome, you're essentially creating designer babies," he twlls OneNewsNow. "You're really trying to change not just individuals, but the heredity of every descendant of those individuals."
The lead scientist at Oregon Health and Science University, researcher Shoukhrat Mitalipov, the first person to successfully clone human embryos, has promoted three-parent embryos and is pushing genetic editing.
"It'll be advertised as 'We're going to treat, cure, or even prevent certain diseases from every happening,'" Prentice says. "But it's not going to stop there. Rogue scientists will seek to make a name for themselves instead of trying to treat and cure diseases and address human suffering."
Prentice also tells OneNewsNow that society as a whole needs to register discontent with scientists "pushing the envelope beyond where it should go in terms of human life and human dignity."