Will Genome Editing Allow Scientists to Create the Perfect Baby?

Jennifer Doudna and her research partner Emmanuelle Charpentier both won the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, Massry Prize. You’d see that and decide these were a couple scientific eggheads, winning some special award. Then you’d forget about it. Unless you see the film clip of Cameron Diaz handing them an award that, at quick glance, could be an Emmy or an Oscar. Then the average person’s attention perks up. This must be some big deal to have a movie star give them the award. And it is. They won for a breakthrough study in genome editing.

Genome editing. It sounds maybe innocent, maybe a little techie. Most people aren’t science oriented enough to know what a genome is without looking it up. And the word “editing” certainly sounds innocent enough. Dictionary.com defines genome as “a full set of chromosomes; all the inheritable traits of an organism.” The first entry in a Google search for “genome” says, “A genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes. Each genome contains all of the information needed to build and maintain that organism. In humans, a copy of the entire genome—more than 3 billion DNA base pairs—is contained in all cells that have a nucleus.”

Suddenly, “genome editing” becomes more interesting. What these women won the award for is genetic manipulation. In a story by Norah O’Donnell on CBS This Morning, Mrs. Doudna said, among other things, that she was interested in the science not the monetary possibilities. And she seemed honest enough to believe that. But we don’t normally think of scientists “going for the big bucks.” Until you think about what this is.

As we gain more experience and knowledge in the field, there’s the possibility of editing out genetic diseases. Tendencies toward cancer could disappear, family genetics toward certain health issues could be eliminated. Perhaps, as we get better at it, we could develop corrective surgery at the genetic level. That’s all good. (Read more from “Will Genome Editing Allow Scientists to Create the Perfect Baby?” HERE)

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