Research

We will not make smart kids using CRISPR. Because we can not

Experts in the field of gene researchsuggest that our worst fears regarding gene editing will not come true because they are too difficult to accomplish. You see, one of the main concerns that the CRISPR gene editing method has for the public is that it can be used to create “designer babies” with an increased level of intelligence. In the worst case, this may give an unfair advantage to parents who can afford to improve their offspring. For example, a survey of residents of the American city of Pugh in July 2018 showed that their greatest concern was that CRISPR "would only be available to the rich."

They do not need to worry, they are comforted by the three leadingscientists in the field of gene editing. The intellect is too complex to be designed, and this is good, because it is the intellect that will save us from the dangers of human arrogance.

Designer Babies and CRISPR

In November, Chinese scientist He Jiankui declared thatsecretly used a gene editing tool to create twin girls immune to HIV. It was alarming, because it showed that the production of designer babies is not only impossible to stop, it is already happening.

But public concern about creatingintellectual elites probably have no soil of reality. So say the scientists who published the work last week in the New England Journal of Medicine. The article was written by George Daley, dean of the Harvard School of Medicine and two European embryology experts, Robin Lovell-Badge and Julie Steffann.

“In the long run, our greatestprotection from inappropriate genome editing can be the impossibility of influencing such features as intelligence, which arise as a result of the complex interactions of many genes and media, ”they write.

We linked more than a thousand genes with a coefficientintelligence or the success of people in school. At the moment, scientists do not know what these genes are doing, and, more importantly, the tools for editing the genes have not yet reached the point of changing the genes of the embryo in many places.

For the authors of the article, such ignorance is bliss. They want gene editing to be used to eradicate genetic diseases in embryos - and they believe that this is entirely possible. Since serious congenital diseases, such as Huntington's syndrome or cystic fibrosis, are often caused by specific DNA errors in individual genes, they may well be corrected with CRISPR. They say that doing it in the bud is the best way to get rid of the problem.

Daly and other scientists now want thisthe kind of medicine moved forward. But it will be harder if the editing of genes is used roughly, since the regulators will continue to ban it, and public opinion will deteriorate.

In the case of the twins, He Jiankyi said thatdeleted a gene called CCR5 to make them immune to HIV. Although He was in some ways the first, Daley and colleagues believe that this was a shameful study that violates the rules of ethics. He will be forever remembered for his reckless disregard for widely designated scientific, clinical, and ethical standards.

He is now under house arrest.

And this is only the beginning - there are quite weighty ones.reasons for changing embryos. For example, if a couple cannot have healthy children or does not want to pass on risk genes when trying to conceive a child with IVF. Be that as it may, CRISPR is used for purposes that the public considers alarming. Most people are very good at this tool if it eradicates the disease. But only 20% believe that it is a good idea to use it to “improve” a person - in particular, to increase the intelligence of the offspring.

Fortunately for scientists, they do not have to decide whether it is good or bad - to improve the intelligence of the embryo. They say that this is impossible, so there is nothing to worry about.

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