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Manipulation of the Body to Obtain the Desired Trait in the Body

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Genetic engineering is the manipulation of an organism to produce a desired trait in that organism. Genetic engineering was once a pipe dream in the not so distant past, used in science fiction to create utopias with no disease or for parents to choose their perfect child. Even though genetic engineering has been happening for thousands of years, the world has never seen the amount of control that humans have recently acquired with gene editing and genetic engineering in the past one or two decades. Humans have changed this science fiction fantasy into real life. But is this sound for humans to have this much control over the very fabric of life, for humans to modify animals and even other humans. More importantly, what are the effects that are going to cause on humans and the planet. How are humans using genetic engineering currently? One of if not the biggest uses of genetic engineering is in the medical field, scientists have started finding ways to prevent disease from infecting people, creating the child of choice with whatever features they want on the kid, and even expanding the average human lifespan to greater lengths. Those days of fiction are gone, and the future is looking unsure for genetic engineering, being so fresh it can go many places and could even have deadly consequences.

Genetic engineering of organisms has spanned back for millennia, it originated as selective breeding of cattle, and crops in agriculture. It is even an instinct for humans to reproduce with others that are suitable to produce strong children. Humans have slowly got better at genetic engineering but never fully understood how it works. However, this changed with the discovery of DNA in 1944, scientists finally figured out how farmers were in a position to produce these superior products. Now in recent years scientists have found effective ways to get these traits without breeding, and even give these traits to other organisms.

Many countries are looking into this science and are trying to decide if it is ethical and safe enough to invest time and money into the subject. China is a country that has started doing experiments on human beings, creating (designer babies) or children that have been genetically engineered to have specific characteristics like green eyes, blonde hair, big eyebrows, or even if they are bold. There seem to be many benefits that come from this scientific study as noted, but there is a serious safety hazard that comes with this much power. Messing with substances on the cellular level that could very easily backfire and create some deadly disease or even some other creature, this science is modern compared to some of human’s older sciences like biology or physics that boomed in the 20th century and has been explored and has had many experiments. These genetic engineering experiments are very controversial on the other hand because people are being tested on and the result can be forcing another human without their consent to raise their health or even their life. Now the question I want to ask is, should genetic engineering be used in treating diseases and creating children?

The genetic engineering that we know today is a much different process than what it used to be. Today scientists use gene editing tools such as the (CRISPR-Cas9), which is as referenced in “What are genome editing and CRISPR-Cas9′, it is a process replicated from the naturally occurring genome editing system that bacteria use. The bacteria will capture snippets of DNA from viruses that have invaded and use that snippet of DNA to create its own DNA segment known as the CRISPR array. The array allows the bacteria to detect the virus if it encounters the same or closely related strand of the virus if it attacks again. If that bacteria ever encounters that virus again, then that will trigger the production of an RNA segment that comes from the array, these RNA segments target the virus’s DNA, then the bacteria uses Cas9 or other enzymes to tare the DNA apart, this disables the virus. This process is comparable in labs and is what scientists are starting to implement into the medical field. Genome editing is of the biggest interest in prevention and treatment of viruses and diseases currently. The only dilemma is scientists are determining whether this approach is safe for humans

There appears to be many diseases that if scientists can use the CRISPR-Cas9 system to inactivate could save millions of lives. One of the deadliest diseases, cancer is attempting to be cured by the CRISPR system, there are even clinical trials being carried out on defeating this disease, however this is one of the most advanced, most difficult diseases to tackle. As stated in (Doctors In China Lead Race To Treat Cancer By Editing Genes) is about a 53-year-old construction worker, Sharorong Deng. He has cancer in the esophagus, which in fact is an extremely common form of cancer in China. Deng had gone through every form of cancer treatment and these did nothing to stop the malignant cancer that would not stop spreading. He signed for experimental gene editing treatment and the scientist took cells from his immune system known as T-cells and altered them using the CRISPR-Cas9. The genetically engineered T-cells were then infused into his bloodstream. This is one of the biggest test cases in the world, and China appears to be one of the leading countries in genome editing. In comparison, in the United States there is only one CRISPR cancer study that has been approved. This case has not even found a patient to treat yet. It is still early to draw conclusions based on this one treatment, but Deng one month later has already regained the strength to walk again. There are many more of these experimental treatments happening in China, with many if not all of them saving the patients from their nearly inevitable death that would have happened in just a few short months. So why does it seem like China is the only country experimenting with this life saving science.

But on the other hand, today with all of the knowledge scientists possess, we only have a limited understanding of the complex relationships and interactions genes have with one another. In manipulating and modifying human genes, scientists could produce a less than desirable result, and then that people could possibly be worse off than not having their DNA edited in the first place. Scientists recently have a very limited understanding of what their actions with genome editing in the present could lead to in the future. Is the sacrifice of a few lives ruined worth the possibility of a disease-free world?

Many countries other than China have withheld from using this incredible power, known as genetic engineering. The west has been vigilant about this topic and has kept very strict regulations on the subject. The west has kept a firm belief that this is very experimental and could possibly be causing more harm than good and that this tool is incredibly powerful. This could also be for valid reasons because there have been multiple instances where there have been mishaps, one prominent instance happening in China where a scientist created genetically edited babies that would be immune to the disease AIDS, however he skipped testing it on animals and went straight to human tests, he learned that the mutation of the new CCR5 gene creates a toxic protein, this led to widespread criticism. However, as time passes and more research is conducted more and more countries have approved of experiments and tests. In 2019, the United States has opened up to the subject and has even become one of the leading countries in genome editing. It is not only government policies that believe that this is out of human hands and it is too dangerous, there seem to be many people that presume playing God and seeking to control natural events like disease and birth is a dangerous process.

Another disease that CRISPR gene editing can solve are blood disorders. The first CRISPR trial in Europe and the United States, which had patients enrolled, started in February 2019, the goal of these trials being to treat patients with beta-thalassemia and sickle cell disease. These affect oxygen transport in the bloodstream, to cure these diseases people are extracting bone marrow stem cells from the patients and are editing them to produce fetal hemoglobin (a natural form of the oxygen carrying protein that binds to oxygen with a greater percentage than the adult form. The possibilities are virtually endless with genetic engineering most of the diseases that are not already cureable big or small can be solved for example: blindness, AIDS, cystic fibrosis, and even muscular dystrophy.

In the future humans can vehemently differ from the humans we are today, with the CRISPR-Cas9 scientists are able to edit the genomes in embryos and change their immunity to diseases, or their physical features faster, stronger, and smarter than the average human today. When the first legal ‘Crispr babies’ are born, they will likely have been modified to save them from a detrimental genetic disease, or a disease the mother could have passed on to the child via the placenta. As genetic modification becomes more refined and the possibilities grow, more people will likely begin to argue the ethics of withholding the possibility of a better life from children. Tension will rise, and different groups with differing views and beliefs will clash, but once the idea of Crispr babies is accepted by a segment of society, that door will forever be open. In the beginning, the focus of Crispr babies will be health related, but as the knowledge of genetics continues to grow, parents could possibly follow a slippery slope and start indulging in minor and vain traits. If a parent could cure their child of their hereditary disease. That parent could even go to the doctor in the future and get rid of these diseases that in today’s time can not be cured

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