The technique known as gene editing can make precise changes to DNA. But any alterations would be passed on to future generations, if the embryos were ever to be used in human reproduction. Earlier this year, Chinese scientists announced that they had genetically manipulated human IVF embryos for research purposes in a landmark study. Scientists say the new technique, called Crispr/Cas9, means that genomes can be manipulated in a more precise way than before. The team used the CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technique, a relatively new but powerful and widely-used method that allows scientists to modify genes more rapidly than before. However, there have been calls for a moratorium on such research, amid moral and ethical concerns. When you cross the germline bright line, you’re also opening the door to eugenic reasons, improvement, enhancement, not just disease. Despite many scientists’ reservations, this research is not likely to stop.
Once we gained the ability to modify the DNA of an organism, it was only a matter of time before we turned that technology on ourselves and our offspring. The Chinese team’s target was the gene responsible for β-thalassaemia, an inherited blood disorder that can lead to severe anemia. In that sense, they were on the right path. There’s tremendous promise in genome editing for blood disorders, and other disorders. Now British scientists have also applied for permission to research in this area.The bottom line is ” we need to have international discussions about how to proceed with this research”