The interspaced short palindromic repeats. “The Cas9

The genetic
modification of embryos is not a new concept to science, but interest in the
topic has recently peaked. This kind of genetic modification supposedly
presents “the promise of treating or curing genetic sicknesses, manipulating
DNA can permit scientists to develop new strains of organisms, which includes
mice that function models of human illnesses beneficial for pharmaceutical
testing, or sheep that secrete drugs in their milk” (Lakra). This technology
can treat illnesses such as cancer, HIV or even high cholesterol. Genetic
modification can also engineer agricultural crops “through putting genes from
animals or different plant life, making them proof against cold, sickness or
insecticides” (Lakra). Overall, genetic modification promises to “expand new,
beneficial life forms; manufacture new medicines; and enhance human existence,
health and environment” (Lakra).

            As
of late, the CRISPER-Cas9 technology has been named the most efficient way of
genome editing. It is the “quickest, least expensive and most solid technique
for ‘editing’ genes” (Lakra). The CRISPER-Cas9 system stands for clustered
regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats. “The Cas9 enzyme cuts through
the DNA like a pair of molecular scissors and RNA molecule targets the specific
position of the DNA to make the cut. This cut can be repaired by the cell’s DNA
repair machinery but it often makes mistakes. The repair process can also be
controlled by providing a template. The template gives the liberty to the
scientist to edit the genome with almost any sequence they want at about any
site of their choosing” (Lakra). This cut in the DNA provided by CRISPER-Cas9
can be utilized to create a new protein and edit the overall DNA to get the
product the scientist is looking for. In this way, scientists can remove the
harmful part of a gene to prevent illnesses. They can also manipulate the DNA
repair machinery to add one or multiple genes to a specific sequence. Not many
studies have been done in the United States due to restrictions, but in
previous Chinese studies, they found that “CRISPER caused editing errors and
that the desired DNA changes were taken up not by all the cells of an embryo,
only some” (Connor). This is called mosaicism. Many genome editing techniques
struggle with the ability to control where the transformation occurs. This can
cause a mutation to be placed in the wrong area of the gene, which sometimes
creates no problem at all, but can sometimes replace a crucial part of the gene
creating many problems. Clearly, there are some parts of this technology that
could be studied more extensively, but most of this experimentation is
prohibited, especially in the United States. There are many restrictions put on
these sorts of experiments. Mitalipov, a scientist from the Soviet Union,
created human embryos through cloning in 2013. “His teams move into embyo
editing coincides with a report by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in
February that was widely seen as the green light for lab research on germline
modification” (Connor). Germline modification is modification of sex cells from
an individual. This means that the edited part of the cell will continued to be
passed on the future offspring. This report still required only editing for
elimination or diseases to avoid bringing up moral complications. These moral
complications are a huge implication holding back many experimental studies. Germline
cell editing is much more controversial than somatic cell editing. Somatic cell
editing has already been done in a few exception or life-threatening cases. There
is a concern that gene-editing babies would become extremely popular if offered
to the public, and there is a push to avoid complications with fairness on this
issue. There is also huge concern that the technique would be offered without
extensive research being done.