Design-Your-Own-Baby: The Techniques, Feasibility, and Ethics of

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Design-Your-Own-Baby: The Techniques, Feasibility, and Ethics of

Design-Your-Own-BabyThe Techniques, Feasibility,and Ethics of Human GeneticEnhancement


Eugenics: A HistoricalPerspective• "Eugenics is the study of theagencies under social control thatmay improve or impair the racialqualities of future generationseither physically or mentally."• 20 th Century America• Nazi Germany-Sir Francis Galton, , 1904


Nazi poster bearing thephrase, translated fromGerman,"A strong and healthynurse is there only togive care to a dangerousmadman. Shouldn't webe ashamed?"


A New Kind of Eugenics• The Human Genome Project-Published Initial Working Draft Sequence (2001)-Expected Completion: 2003-2006-When the purposes of all of the expressed genes areidentified, genetic manipulation of traits like eyecolor, intelligence, and height will be possible.• Recent developments in IVF, pre-implantation DNA analysis, and improvedtechniques for gene transfer, insertion,and conversion


TransgenicsBasic Technique1. Identify gene of interest2. Synthesize gene-to make it tissue-specific, selector create a well-characterizedpromoter that will bind tohomologous sequence in DNA to bespliced out-Clone transgene fragment usingPCR


TransgenicsBasic Technique3. Isolate large numbers of fertilized eggsfrom superovulated females.4. Using a micro-injection needle, injecttransgene DNA into pronucleus of eachsingle-cell fertilized egg.5. Re-implant eggs into oviducts ofanaesthetized psuedopregnant females6. After birth, progeny tested forincorporation of transgene by PCR orSouthern Blot.


Problems with CurrentTechniques• Only a fraction of the animals derivedfrom microinjected embryos carry thetransgene• While some transgenic animals do nothave developmental problems, they oftenhave high rates of tumor incidenceduring adult life.• Some kinds of manipulationunsuccessful-growth hormones in pigs-increase muscle mass in cattle


Genetic Treatment vs.Genetics Enhancement• Treatment: Fixing a genetic defect (i.e.trisomy 21, myopia)• Enhancement: Genetic manipulationbecomes enhancement when alteration isfor “improving a characteristic that . . .Would be within what is regarded as a‘normal’ range, or as installing acharacteristic that would not normally bepresent.”


Design-A-ChildYour child deserves the best possible start. We have enough imperfection built in already.You don’t want to give your child any additional burdens.SexMaleFemaleEye ColorBlueBrownGreenHazelHeight5’ +5’5’’+Hair ColorRedBrownBlackBlondIQ100-150150+Disposition (check all that apply)Good-naturedTalkativeAggressivePassiveCharmingHappySexual OrientationHeterosexualHomosexualBisexual6’+*Note: Our basic service provides genetic defect corrections


Athletes, Supermodels,and Einsteins


What Do We Have AgainstGenetic Enhancement?• Ethical Issues• Legal Issues• Genetic Diversity Issues


Ethical Issues• Link to the dreaded word“eugenics”• Will widen gap between rich andpoor• Psychological welfare ofgenetically-engineered children• Sacredness of genes


Legal Issues• 19 countries have already banned humancloning and genetic manipulations• U.S. Constitutional Issues1. Physical Freedom2. Self-determination3. Parent’s s right to make decisions onbehalf of their children4. Personal Privacy5. Rights to Procreation


Genetic Diversity Issues• Genetically-Enhancedindividuals willbe more fit tosurvive• Homogenizationof Society?• Counterarguments:-Although geneticallyenhanced individualsmight have some physicaladvantages, there is nocertainty that they wouldhave greater reproductivefitness.-Neither gene transfer norany of the other emergingreproductive technologieswill ever have asignificant impact onhuman evolution.


Why Genetic EnhancementWon’t t Hurt Diversity• Babies born every month worldwide:11,000,000• Assuming “enhanced” individual had his/her firstchild at age 20, the number of unengineeredchildren born during the lifetime of enhancedindividual before reproducing:2,640,000,000• Assuming 1000 successful “enhanced” babiescreated per year, % population they constitute:1/132,000


Future of GeneticEnhancements?


Future of GeneticEnhancements?•Testing on humans will be difficultinitially due to limitations on embryonicstem cell and human cloning research•However, when treatment for geneticdisorders will be approved, it will opendoors for other types of “therapy”•The first genetic enhancements thatcome before the FDA will be cloaked intherapeutic guises•Acceptance will come slowly


Would You Enhance YourBabies?

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