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8) Editing the ‘human germline’ is an exercise fraught with unknown risks. Discuss.(250 words) 

Topic– Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

8) Editing the ‘human germline’ is an exercise fraught with unknown risks. Discuss.(250 words) 

The hindu

Reference

Why this question

In the wake of the world’s first human germline editing exercise, it is pertinent to discuss about the risks associated with the technology, apart from the ethical issues involved therein.

Directive word

Discuss- this is an all-encompassing directive which mandates us to write in detail about the key demand of the question. we also have to discuss about the related and important aspects of the question in order to bring out a complete picture of the issue in hand.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to write in detail about the risks associated with human germline editing technology, as of today.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- write a few introductory lines about the recent incident of a Chinese scientist exercising gene-edition in human embryo.

Body-

  1. DIscuss the potential benefits of human-germline editing. E.g
  • Editing DNA to correct disease mutations has been possible for a while now.
  • The promises of such gene-editing are boundless- to treat diseases like HIV, multiple myeloma and other forms of cancer, using the Crispr-Cas9 editing system etc.
  1. DIscuss as to why human germline editing is fraught with unknown risks. E.g
  • Editing human embryos to repair disease-causing genes is far more controversial.
  • One pitfall of embryo gene-editing is that it is not as precise as we need it to be today.
  • Studies have shown that the technology can result in unintended mutations, which in turn can cause cancers.
  • Then there is the danger of mosaicism, in which some cells inherit the target mutation, while others don’t.
  • Every gene likely influences multiple traits, depending on the environment it interacts with. This makes it hard to predict the ultimate outcome of an embryo-editing exercise without decades of follow-up.
  • Issue of Designer babies
  • Issue of Social and political inequality etc.

Conclusion– based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.