Latest Chinese Designer Baby Experiment this Year Inspires Hope as much as Fear
This year's most crucial scientific breakthrough, a Chinese experiment that successfully altered genes in human embryos, set off some alarms on ethical grounds, according to Journal Science. The genome editing technique known as CRISPR was noted as this year's most important scientific developments. The journal called this technique as simple and inexpensive. CRISPR was, in fact, considered an even greater discovery than the Ebola vaccine and a discovery of new human species, Homo Naledi, in South Africa. Through CRISPR it has been said that human genetic destiny can be rewritten from the scratch that will bring technology fidgeting with the source code of physical identity of a human. This raises some serious philosophical and ethical issues, reported The Christian Science Monitor.
Even though this technology has been around for years, 2015 CRISPR led to some groundbreaking milestones. The first known development was a revolutionary technology known as "gene drive", a technique that can encourage certain genes that can allow certain favorable traits to spread in a population rapidly. According to this technology, the DNA organisms can be altered to stop obstinate illnesses from spreading and to also eliminate invasive species such as rats and crop pests, reports The Independent. As helpful as this technology sounds, there is also a risk of it being used in harmful ways such as a terrorist bioweapon against humans and animals. "If we're right about this, it's a powerful advance that could make the world a much better place, but only if we use it wisely," Kevin Esvelt, a gene-drive expert at Harvard Medical School told The Independent. Similar clash mars the second technology powered by CRISPR, the scientists were able to tweak the genetic formation of the non-viable human embryo in such a way that it would allow the modifications to be passed on to next generations.