What are the ethical concerns involved in gene editing technology. Discuss.(150 Words)

Mentor’s Comment.

  1. Define Gene Editing Technolgy.
  2. Giving its pros and cons list ethical concerns related to gene editing technology.
  3. Conclude with focusing on a middle path ensuring judicious use of such potential technology

Answer:

Gene Editing is a type of genetic engineering in which DNA is inserted, deleted, modified or replaced in the genome of a living organism. Unlike early genetic engineering techniques that randomly inserts genetic material into a host genome, genome editing targets the insertions to site specific locations.

Ethical challenges :-

Bioethicists expressed concern over the clinical application of such research. These are still early days in a new frontier of genome engineering.
Bioethicists fear abuse of gene editing, not just by misguided governments but also by the private sector preying on a parent’s desire to create a perfect child.
There is growing fear that the gene-editing system is being prematurely rushed for clinical use.
There are various ethical and technical issues involved with gene editing.
It can create unforeseen changes in the genome which are undesirable.
It has also been ethically questioned whether editing gene to create babies that parents desires would make them more like commodities.
Bioethicists and researchers generally believe that human genome editing for reproductive purposes should not be attempted at this time. In addition, there are concerns with manipulating human embryos for own interest. Many people have moral and religious objections to the use of human embryos for research.
Safety:-
Due to the possibility of off-target effects (edits in the wrong place) and mosaicism (when some cells carry the edit but others do not), safety is of primary concern
Informed Consent
Some people worry that it is impossible to obtain informed consent for germline therapy because the patients affected by the edits are the embryo and future generations.
Researchers and bioethicists also worry about the possibility of obtaining truly informed consent from prospective parents as long as the risks of germline therapy are unknown.
Justice and Equity
As with many new technologies, there is concern that genome editing will only be accessible to the wealthy and will increase existing disparities in access to health care and other interventions.
Some worry that taken to its extreme, germline editing could create classes of individuals defined by the quality of their engineered genome.

A two-step model wherein the government works with industry and research groups to accelerate clinical research is recommended. This model consists of a national apex committee working in collaboration with existing institutional ethics committees and independent accreditation agencies.

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