Congratulations to the researchers in Oregon that recently reported on the first successful modification of the genome of a human embryo in the U.S.A.. There has been a lot said from the media about the future bringing “designer babies.” I need to clarify that the research was in early “pre-embryos” and that none were implanted for development into true embryos or even a fetus. Additionally, the pre-embryos used were donated human embryos for research. As far as “designer babies” being “around the corner,” there are laws and ethical codes that prevent U.S. clinics or labs from doing this for the purpose of procreation. Nonetheless, I speculate that this kind of research may hopefully lead to our ability to eliminate very bad dominant diseases from families in the future. Examples of these types of genetic problems are the Breast cancer mutations, the Lynch cancer mutation syndrome, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), and Huntington’s disease. There will be a lot of debate within our academic and government regulatory bodies as to how and which heritable disease or conditions should be treated with genetic engineering tools of the future.
Julio E. Pabon, M.D.,F.A.C.O.G.
C.E.O. , Medical and Lab director, Fertility Center & Applied Genetics of Florida
Assistant Clinical Professor, Florida State University