According to CBS’s medical contributor Dr. David Agus on January 4, 2017, we can expect to see more developments in the use of the gene modification enzyme called CRYSPR. This technology enables scientists to alter one of the genetic letters of the 3.2 billion letters of the human genetic code.
He said that scientists are using IVF mitochondrial replacement techniques to change defective genetic material from the mothers egg which would be replaced with donor mitochondria.
Another Application is to have a baby get genetic material from three people to eliminate a birth defect. A recent story on CBS September 27, 2016, told a story of a doctor that did a three person fertilization in Mexico for a patient. This IVF technique can be performed in the UK and in Mexico. The story reported that the baby was born successfully in good health.
Emerging ideas include the potential for using CRYSPR gene editing technology to prevent single gene disorders such as cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease and sickle cell anemia. This technology might be used to treat cancer and destroy viruses such as HIV or hepatitis.The first food using this technology is a mushroom that has already reached the market.
Dr. Agus said that there are concerns that there’s a downside to using this type of technology as well. He mentioned that in China scientists there are working on embryos and editing the genes. And he wonders how are they are managing to do that and what are the concerns for society. He worried that perhaps they are changing hair color, eye color and other things that will make the babies look more interesting, or more attractive. He is worried that this is a slippery slope of things to come. He said that we need some kind of global leadership concerning the ethics of using this technology.