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View Full Version : Would you 'genetically modify' your child?


devotionnel
February 11th, 2017, 03:20 PM
Imagine it now, you or your female partner has just landed pregnant. Excited, you often keep tabs of the development of the child. But wait ... the doctor says that the child has a severe genetic defect. The doctors can't help you, other than help you through the abortion method (if legal I presume) or continue to give you support throughout the rest of the pregnancy. But, did you know the scientists can?

If you're worried about your child inheriting specific genes (high risk of diabetes/cancer/stroke, hereditary), scientists can help by genetically modifying the DNA of the embryo or sperm/egg and basically rewriting the genetic code. This could help by significantly reducing the hereditary issues I stated above. But would you do it if it was your own child?

Drunkenprofesser
February 12th, 2017, 12:13 AM
I think that if the child was to be born with some disease or condition that would greatly impact its quality of life, like motor neuron disease or down syndrome, guess i would explore genetic modification, if it can be proven that it works and has been successful, yes i know that sounds shallow, but thats my 2 cents on the matter

mattsmith48
February 12th, 2017, 12:58 AM
Im not the biggest fan of the modification of DNA because there is alot of way it could go wrong, if we have enough evidence that it works, could help them to live a long normal live and it might even eliminate genetic disorders why not?

bentheplayer
February 12th, 2017, 01:16 AM
Given the current developments in the medical genetics field, it is going to be very difficult to do gene modification properly as current techniques mostly depend on gene addition or modification of the control elements for gene expression. Such modifications are done via vectors which will increase the genetic code instead of a base paring switch. Ethically, these modifications can only be done on non-reproductive cells, i.e. on adult cells so the scope of it being a cure is highly limited. Genetic modification is most likely going to be sci-fic but currently what can be done is genetic selection which is sometimes offered during IVF therapy.

devotionnel
February 12th, 2017, 04:08 AM
A simple version of the CRISPR/Cas system, CRISPR/Cas9, has been modified to edit genomes ... the cell's genome can be cut at a desired location, allowing existing genes to be removed and/or new ones added.

Scientists are pretty satisfied with the CRISPR gene-editing technique since it is apparently simple and easy to use.

There's a source here (http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/genetherapy/success/) that shows some of the gene therapy successes with some diseases and conditions. If you're interested in the topic, I'd recommend the read.

bentheplayer
February 12th, 2017, 04:35 AM
Scientists are pretty satisfied with the CRISPR gene-editing technique since it is apparently simple and easy to use.

There's a source here (http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/genetherapy/success/) that shows some of the gene therapy successes with some diseases and conditions. If you're interested in the topic, I'd recommend the read.

Yea actually these are part of my schl bio syllabus atm. There are still various limitations with current genetic modifications and current ethics guidelines prohibit such engineering on germ cells or zygotes. One key concern is the process of adding genes means than non-target gene bases have to be included too. I believe that South Korea claimed to overcome this limitation with the use of lasers a few years ago but the tech they are using isn't that scalable.

Even the link you provided stated that cancer is a potential consequence from the use of viral vectors. There is still very little understanding on the long term consequences of such engineering and current techniques are only able to reduce the extent of effect or delay progression of the disease. The truth is that gene therapy is still a game of chance and not a silver bullet. From a medical perspective, I have come across some researchers who claim that epigenetics has a bigger role to play than genetics alone. The big problem is we know less about epigentics than the alleles or even gene engineering techniques.

I am all for gene modification as long as it isn't on germ cells or zygotes and that the person receiving it fully understands the limitations of gene therapy.

devotionnel
February 12th, 2017, 05:12 AM
I am all for gene modification as long as it isn't on germ cells or zygotes and that the person receiving it fully understands the limitations of gene therapy.

Yeah, I remember seeing that if they modify the germ cells then the whole gene pool would go out of balance. Is this still the case for normal adult stem cells? This is what I've been confused about.

bentheplayer
February 12th, 2017, 05:29 AM
Yeah, I remember seeing that if they modify the germ cells then the whole gene pool would go out of balance. Is this still the case for normal adult stem cells? This is what I've been confused about.

This depends on the specific disease that we are talking about. For hematological diseases they will usually use retroviruses as the vector. The problem is the possibility of cancer and wrecking havoc to the normal gene is that not all cells will be "infected". Generally virus vectors only target actively dividing cells so they will target stem cells.

Modifying germ cells is not so much about wrecking the gene pool but rather a lack of knowledge on what will happen. The main concern is what will happen if the modified portion gets passed on and "inherited". There is still a lot unknown in terms of genetic effect on embryology and most countries ban such experimentation on embryos. Even stem cell research is quite controversial as stem cells and actually all cells have the potential to become a "zygote". That was how dolly the sheep was created. Currently we are in a strange situation where we are able to do certain things with varying degree of success despite not fully understanding the underlying mechanisms and interactions. This is very much the case in medicine where they use the evidence based medicine principle to formulate treatment plans. The doctors know that doing certain things might cure a patient but they don't necessarily know why.

Mars
February 12th, 2017, 10:10 AM
I would only modify my child's genes (not that I plan on birthing, but) only if they were going to be born with a disease or illness or smth. But otherwise I wouldn't change their genes like Gattaca just so they run faster or smth, nah.

Amethyst Rose
February 12th, 2017, 10:24 AM
If my child had a condition that diminished their quality of life severely, I would consider it, if and only if it had been proven to have no negative repercussions.

bentheplayer
February 12th, 2017, 11:41 AM
Even if you wanted to you will need to be able to afford it first. Glybera the world first gene therapy cost in the region of 1 million euros. Another treatment called Strimvelis for ADA-SCID is likely to cost in the region of 500k USD. Current gene treatment for diseases have fairly limited scope and doesn't work like what was originally suggested; modifying the genetic code at the embryo or fetal stage.

Anniebanannie
February 12th, 2017, 03:14 PM
Like others said, if some modification could eliminate a particular disability, I would want to discuss it with my husband. Otherwise it seems frivolous.

refrigeratorx
February 12th, 2017, 03:36 PM
Definitely as others said, to eliminate diseases or potential problems. However, I don't see the problem with giving my child physical advantages as well. Like if I had the means to make my child a born Olympic swimmer body type, I would. It gives them the chance to make back the large amounts of money assumed to cost to genetically modify the procedure would cost. However, just because I modify their look a little, does not mean I'm choosing a life for them; they can never swim if they really don't want to. In such a highly competitive world, I would want my child to have any possible advantage they could. (Not saying I would make them a heterosexual cisgender white male, but rather a way to be successful in more specific places where body is important) idk

Amethyst Rose
February 12th, 2017, 03:48 PM
A thought occurred to me reading refrigeratorx 's post above, where he mentioned giving a child physical advantages. If we 'enhanced' our children by modifying their genetics, should they be obligated to know? I think they are entitled to know if such a significant part of them has been altered, and be aware of the advantages they have from the start. Using the swimmer example, if the child grew to become an Olympic swimmer and then found out it was because their genes had been modified, they may feel as if they cheated to gain their acclaim and hadn't really earned it. Of course not everyone would have the same attitude about it, but I'm curious what others' opinions are.

devotionnel
February 12th, 2017, 04:03 PM
In my opinion, I think it's totally unethical to change the genetics of the child for personal gain. If you start to create 'designer' babies that look genetically perfect, most people will start to exploit it when it becomes more available and will eventually spoil the relationship between parent and child. I feel as if it would be better to keep it in nature's way, as hypocritical as it sounds.

Amethyst Rose
February 12th, 2017, 04:31 PM
In my opinion, I think it's totally unethical to change the genetics of the child for personal gain. If you start to create 'designer' babies that look genetically perfect, most people will start to exploit it when it becomes more available and will eventually spoil the relationship between parent and child. I feel as if it would be better to keep it in nature's way, as hypocritical as it sounds.

I completely agree with you that it is unethical; I meant in a hypothetical situation if we were to modify their genes whether that should be disclosed to them.

Babs
February 12th, 2017, 04:34 PM
I always thought that if I had a kid and knew there was going to be a very challenging birth defect, I would abort it. As shitty as that sounds, it would be a terrible damper on the kid's life. So, if I wanted a kid and knew there was something safe I could do to improve my kid's quality of life, I would do it.

PlasmaHam
February 12th, 2017, 09:48 PM
There are numerous ethical problems with genetic engineering. Someone who has been genetically engineered could have certain advantages over the rest of us, be it physical or mental. Most everyone want their children to have a fighting chance for being great, so if genetic engineering of that sort became possible there would pressure upon parents to do such to their child. That would however create problems, as certain people would either refuse on ethical grounds to do such to their children, or simply not have the money to pay for the procedure.

This would result in a class system being created in society. The genetically enhanced would become by their innate abilities the ruling class, while the rest become a lower class of workers. You can see the problems in such. While this doesn't directly address the question being ask by the OP, it does show the more long term affects of genetic engineering upon society.

refrigeratorx
February 12th, 2017, 11:13 PM
A thought occurred to me reading refrigeratorx 's post above, where he mentioned giving a child physical advantages. If we 'enhanced' our children by modifying their genetics, should they be obligated to know? I think they are entitled to know if such a significant part of them has been altered, and be aware of the advantages they have from the start. Using the swimmer example, if the child grew to become an Olympic swimmer and then found out it was because their genes had been modified, they may feel as if they cheated to gain their acclaim and hadn't really earned it. Of course not everyone would have the same attitude about it, but I'm curious what others' opinions are.

That's so true. Then there would be a whole discrepency between those with and without. It open up so many questions. Would anybody know? Would it need to be on the birth certificate? Would people try to hide it? Would a label be put on your child? The possibilities go on and on. Then it would also sway the power dynamic in the world even more lopsided than it already is. In most realistic cases, only the wealthy and powerful would be able to afford such a difficult procedure this would create a generation of people not only born into privilege and wealth, but also physical or mental abilities that are ahead of those who were not modfied. This question creates the building blocks of a scary world honestly.

Amethyst Rose
February 12th, 2017, 11:38 PM
That's so true. Then there would be a whole discrepency between those with and without. It open up so many questions. Would anybody know? Would it need to be on the birth certificate? Would people try to hide it? Would a label be put on your child? The possibilities go on and on. Then it would also sway the power dynamic in the world even more lopsided than it already is. In most realistic cases, only the wealthy and powerful would be able to afford such a difficult procedure this would create a generation of people not only born into privilege and wealth, but also physical or mental abilities that are ahead of those who were not modfied. This question creates the building blocks of a scary world honestly.

This is a prime example of "just because we can, should we?" It's just not right. Just because we have the ability to make these modifications doesn't mean it's the wise thing to do. Something that can open up possibilities like this can easily be blown out of proportion and become void of its original purpose - to help people who are born with conditions they really do suffer from, not to make your child more intelligent or a better athlete or improve whatever other aspect of them just because you want to/can afford it.

Uniquemind
February 14th, 2017, 01:05 PM
Some methods are more invasive that others.

I'm much more in favor of the technology that analyzes the information in mother and father's possible sex cells, before they're merged together, and using selective probability on traits and diseases afterwards.


DNA editing AFTER the fact is a problem for me. But there exist technologies that and are enacted on different stages.

Aka: the technology and methods about this topic aren't all equal morally or ethically.


So depending on specifics, my answer would be yes or no.


The OP's question is too generic otherwise.



If it were a serious 100% genetic disease then yes I would DNA edit but only in extreme circumstances in the exact scenario provided above by the OP.

I would not use it for superficial traits like eye color, skin color, and other looks based criteria on what is or isn't culturally attractive or desirable.

Matryoshkasystem
February 14th, 2017, 05:45 PM
For me, I wouldn't even in more critical things. Reason why, is while yes it does make life harder on them or impossible, sometimes genetics aren't there to be fixed, or fixable. My genetics are said to be perfect-obivously not caus eof heart problem-. Yet I was born with health problems that would seem to be genetic. It's something not easily rectified sometimes. As for modification for gain, similar, its too gray for me. Since while they will have an unfair advantage, there were already people with those genes. Are the people already with the genes treated like those modified, since they have to put in less effort? Or will they be trated like non-modified people since here was never a modification to get the genes?

bentheplayer
February 14th, 2017, 08:17 PM
The OP's question is too generic otherwise.

If it were a serious 100% genetic disease then yes I would DNA edit but only in extreme circumstances in the exact scenario provided above by the OP.

I would not use it for superficial traits like eye color, skin color, and other looks based criteria on what is or isn't culturally attractive or desirable.

OP specifically mentioned diseases are diabetes, cancer and stroke which to the best of my knowledge not treatable by genes even if we had the tech to modify genes on all cells at a large scale.

To be able to change "superficial traits" or phenotype, the genes has to be changed at an embryo stage which hasn't been done yet due to ethical concerns.

Tbh I am a little confused with the original question as parts of it are still and likely to remain sci-fiction.

PlasmaHam
February 14th, 2017, 11:18 PM
OP specifically mentioned diseases are diabetes, cancer and stroke which to the best of my knowledge not treatable by genes even if we had the tech to modify genes on all cells at a large scale. You are mainly right on this, mess with genes all you want but you simply can't change certain things. However, type 1 diabetes is a genetic disorder passed down through the generations, so if we are talking about type 1 diabetes then genetic engineering could treat it. But as you said gene modification would do little on treatment of environmentally or lifestyle caused diabetes. Saying you can modify genes to effectively treat environmental conditions like stroke is like saying you could modify your genes to make you bullet proof. It's simply not plausible.

bentheplayer
February 15th, 2017, 12:44 AM
You are mainly right on this, mess with genes all you want but you simply can't change certain things. However, type 1 diabetes is a genetic disorder passed down through the generations, so if we are talking about type 1 diabetes then genetic engineering could treat it. But as you said gene modification would do little on treatment of environmentally or lifestyle caused diabetes. Saying you can modify genes to effectively treat environmental conditions like stroke is like saying you could modify your genes to make you bullet proof. It's simply not plausible.

Nope. Even for type 1 diabetes, it isn't 100% caused by genes. You can read up the literature. Strictly speaking type 1 diabetes is destruction of beta cells in the pancreas regardless of cause. There was a documented case of a drug that was approved a few decades ago that destroyed beta cells and caused type 1 diabetes. I can't remember the name but it is a similar story to Thalidomide that caused severe "side effects" that was not known when it was approved for use.

If we were to look at identical twin studies comparison, you will find that when 1 twin has type 1 diabetes the other only has it about 50% of the time. Isn't this proof enough that genes alone is not the reason? I heard that are same ways of prevent this autoimmune destruction, which is only one of the many possible causes of type 1, by modifying the genes in the immune system which was done in mice. However, I think that this would be hard to justify in humans since this prevention is not 100% coverage and a little extreme considering that we don't know the full extent of potential side effects.

Basically, genetic engineering might reduce the genetic risk factors and in turn risk of getting those diseases but not "cure" in the truest sense. Its still gonna be a game of chance but maybe one with slightly better odds?

Human
February 28th, 2017, 11:59 AM
Yes, if it would improve my child's quality of life

Hermes
March 3rd, 2017, 12:06 PM
Ignoring such things as payment, for me it would depend on how mature the technology for doing this is. I don't see the genome as being sacred in any way but I would want the risk of the process going wrong and introducing a different genetic defect to be less than the current risk of an inherited disease it is intended to avoid. This is the same risk assessment as for any medical procedure - the risk of the procedure has to be less than the risk inherent in doing nothing.

But it is an interesting subject. What if the change was something that conferred some advantage rather than just the absense of a disability? What if it made people more likely to become top businessmen or champion swimmers? Even in those circumstances I don't think you'd expect an individual who has the means to turn something like that down but that doesn't mean a statutory body charged with regulating such things should judge it immoral and not permitted, especially if it was a really expensive process, not covered by insurance, that would only be available to the already privileged.

Another reason I suspect this might be a hot topic is because attempts were made in the past to improve the human genome. Unfortunately they were often made by depriving people of the ability to breed or by killing them, so thoroughly inhumane.