Current era is the era of customization! You go anywhere or you want anything, you can always find customized options available. Of-course it comes with a premium but it also gives us pride hood to own something Unique, flawless and suitable to our taste/need. Now imagine what if you can choose similar customization when you want to have a baby!!
Excited about the topic! Let me introduce you to the word of cloning, genetic engineering, genes, DNA, IVF and Genetics.
DNA is often referred as Blue print of an individual. We all know a blue print is an early plan or design that explains how something might be achieved. So is the case with DNA. Arrangement of its building blocks and the messages it codes, defines our fate. DNA has every information about us. If we know how to read the DNA, we can know about every possible indication of our health, metabolism, disease, disorders, future generation characters, almost everything related to our development can be interpreted from the DNA. Sounds exciting and scary – so if someone is holding your DNA, He / She knows a lot about you and it can be good or bad for you.
Portion of DNA arranges in a proper manner, when codes for a particular protein is known as Gene, perhaps the much common word that we have come across. You might wonder how you resemble like your parent or grandparents. You must have come across person with specific characters common in one family but not in other families. A specific disease common in one family but not in other families. You can connect this all happenings with ROYAL DISEASE – affecting royal families of England, Germany, Russia, mostly associated in texts with Queen Victoria of England and family members. The Disease – Hemophilia- is common among family but not in others.
You might also have heard about Mendel – Father of Genetics. He established the concepts that how characters are inherited from one generation to other. So taking all these together we have a very sound knowledge of traits or characters, genes associated with them and how they inherit. All these things together serve as knowledge base about the characters exhibited by any individual and we can relate it with their family attributes. So it means we have the knowledge about DNA. But How we can alter it?
Editing a Gene!
With the advent of our knowledge about Gene, we have also come forward with tools which can help us create a new DNA, something which never existed previously can now be created and studied. All these things are clubbed together as Genetic Engineering. Genetic Engineering is helping us in very profound manner be it industrial production of Biological products, medical treatments, working on Bioremidiation or anything that you can imagine working with biological agents. Every possible aspects of working with biological molecule is being tested with the Genetic Engineering.
It is because of this technique we can produce enzyme, without killing animals. We can test drugs on culture cell instead of live animals. So far, this technique has been working wonders for our society and sustainable future. In recent past you must have read about a Chinese researcher who had worked on Embryo, correcting genetic disorder and then placing back embryo inside womb to grow further. Well, this created a lot of noise in the world, it was seen as a boom as well as a bane. It opened discussions about changing genes, correcting genes and making a perfect individual by the use of Genetic Engineering Technique.
So with the advent of Genetic Engineering, CRISPR/Cas9 we now have the power to correct or edit the gene sequence. That means we can change the fate of embryo and make as we wish.
To further align it with our Topic – DESIGNER BABIES, we can customize baby to be as we want. We can choose the genes which we want, let’s say – gene which supports higher intelligence, nice build, athletic body, no disease, supernatural individual. So, know that we are in the world where if I want a baby with a set of character, I can simply order it like a baby with IQ of 180 and Weight of 3 kg with Blue Eyes and Height of 6 feet 2 inch and with these set of conditions and techniques available, scientists will check for embryo, edit the gene sequence as per our needs and implants the same in womb and we will get the baby as desired.
I know it’s like playing God, so techniques like this need to be under regulations. Such techniques must be used for disease prevention rather than for obtaining specific functions. But who knows the future! The Technique might hold different role in future but as far as the concern of the scientific advancements, we have come to the point where it is possible to create something which never existed and we can create superpowers just like X-Men, Captain America, The Hulk or any other Superhero that you can imagine.
By: Veerendra Singh Nagoria
Rai University, Ahmedabad