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Genetic Engineering: Designer Babies By: Jennifer Van JV.

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2 Genetic Engineering: Designer Babies By: Jennifer Van JV

3 What are Designer Babies? Refers to genetic interventions into pre- implantation embryos in the attempt to influence the traits that the resulting offspring will have Term used by journalists, not scientists More realistic term: “Selected Baby” Currently not attainable, however advanced technologies can be used to select the sex of your future offspring as well as the ability to screen for certain genetic defects (only legal in certain countries)

4 Designer Babies Pros Enable parents to avoid the hardships and economic burdens that accompany the birth of a child with an incurable disease New & Better genes passed on to others Ability to enhance muscles, height, intelligence To choose the sex, hair colour and even personality of our children Cons Demeans the uniqueness of each individual therefore undermining humanity Provides those with an unfair competitive advantage over the un- enhanced Widens the existing social gap between those who can and cannot afford the new treatment

5 Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) An in vitro fertilization technique in which embryos (an unborn offspring in the process of development) are created outside the womb and can then be tested for genetic disorders and gender Unfertilized eggs will be removed from the patient, fertilized in a petri dish and then brought to a zygote (eight-cell) stage at which point cells are removed and then tested using PGD Reduces the chances that a child will be born with a genetic disorder

6 Using PGD for Sex Selection The researchers at the Genetics & IVF Institute in Fairfax took advantage of a simple rule in biology: girls have two X chromosomes whereas boys have one X and one Y chromosome In order to choose the sex of the offspring, the power lies within the father’s sperm Y chromosomes have less DNA than X’s So, by staining the sperm’s DNA with a nontoxic light-sensitive dye, the Virginia scientists were able to sort sperm by gender with a high rate of success

7 Screening for Genetic Defects with PGD Only specific disorders can be tested for, there is no generic test available as a “catch-all” It is necessary for a disorder to be pre-identified i.e., it’s known that parents are likely to pass on the disorder or disease to their offspring Polymerase chain reaction is used on single cells to identify disorders such as: B-Thalassaemia, Li Fraumeni syndrome, cystic fibrosis, Duchenne muscular dystrophy (X-linked recessive trait that weakens the muscles), and etc In brief, a polar body or a blastomere is placed in a solution that lyses the cell and releases the DNA A PCR reaction mix is then added and PCR begins


9 The Nash Family Lisa and Jack Nash are carriers for Fanconi anemia, a genetic disorder leaving them with a 1 in 4 chance of having an affected child They had a 6 year old daughter (Molly) who was born with a rare genetic bone marrow disease that would kill her unless she received a transplant from someone with an identical tissue type Nash’s elected 15 embryos and subject them to PGD A single cell was taken from each embryo and tested for genetic mutation that causes Fanconi anemia They went a step further to check for which one carried a tissue type that matched their daughter In August 2000, Adam Nash was born and doctors in Minnesota performed a stem cell transplant on Molly using blood taken at birth from Adam’s umbilical cord and his bone marrow Both children are healthy

10 Marathon Mice In August 2004, scientists in California announced the birth of “Marathon Mice” A new breed of genetically- modified mice that gained muscles and endurance without any exercise and never became obese Most test subjects did not survive due to immune responses to the injected foreign DNA Therapy fails to meet rigors of human safety, efficacy and protection therefore not approved for human use

11 ANDi On January 11, 2001, scientists in Oregon unveiled ANDi (inserted DNA spelt backwards), a baby rhesus monkey containing a new jellyfish gene in his genome The jellyfish gene green fluorescent protein was used as it is easily detectable under a microscope However, when tissue samples were taken, they did not glow and the green fluorescent protein was not detectable "Maybe the quantity of protein is too small to be seen or maybe the mRNA is not being translated," says Anthony Chan Even though the GFP gene did not work, it shows that for the first time it is possible to change the genetic make-up of a primate by inserting a gene into the egg

12 Creating ANDi To create ANDi, Chan and his colleagues injected 224 unfertilized rhesus eggs with a virus carrying the GFP gene The virus's job is to integrate the gene into a random site on one of the chromosomes Six hours later, each egg was artificially fertilized by sperm injection Roughly half of the fertilized eggs grew and divided, reaching the four-cell stage Forty were chosen and implanted into twenty surrogate mothers—two per mother Of these, three healthy males were born and two twin males were stillborn ANDi was the only live monkey carrying the GFP gene

13 Statistics In 1985, there were 30 fertility clinics in the U.S. Ten years later, there were more than 300 More than one million couples seek fertility treatment each year and spend more than 3 bill in pursuit of babies Fees for IVF vary between $5000 - $15,000 with another $2-3 thousand for fertility drugs PGD adds several thousand dollars Clinic success rates improved from 17% in 1992 for women under 40 to nearly 30% in 1999 Success rates vary wildly from 14% to as high as 60%

14 Statistics Since 1980, according to the National Center for health statistics the number of twins born per year has risen 67% The rate of triplets and higher-order birth multiples has soared from 37 per 100,000 live births in 1980 to 184 per 100 000 in 1999 In 2001, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommended transferring at most 2 embryos to the mothers womb for younger patients while older women can recieve as many as 5 PGD is legal in the U.S. and Australia, but illegal in the United Kingdom (unless used for genetic disorders), Denmark, Italy, Portugal, Spain, New Zealand, and Germany Engaging in PGD or embryo selection in order to implant embryos of a particular gender (except for the purpose of preventing, diagnosing or treating a sex-linked disease) is a criminal act carrying with it the penalty of up to ten years in jail and/or a $500,000 fine in Canada

15 Future Outlook Scientists will need to do a lot more work on identifying and isolating the specific genes that control the growth and development of each individual feature, trait, characteristic or talent They will need to work out how to alter the DNA so that the child will match with the parent’s request The formation of the human is a highly complex process of interaction & interweaving It is possible to imagine a society where children can be bred for specific purposes like off planet living where genetic manipulation is essential for survival

16 References (2002). In BIONET. Retrieved May 15, 2012, from Brownlee, S. (2002, March). Designer Babies. Washington Monthly, 34(3). Retrieved May 5, 2012, from the EBSCO database Chan, A. W. S. et al. Transgenic monkeys produced by retroviral gene transfer into mature oocytes. Science 291, 309-312 (January 12, 2000). Genetic Engineering - Designer Babies. (2010). In Future Human Evolution. Retrieved May 7, 2012, from php.htm Lemonick, M. D. (1999, January 11). Designer Babies. Time Magazine. Retrieved May 15, 2012, from Ren, Y. (2005). Designer Babies: The Pros and Cons of Genetic Engineering. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Undergraduate Research Journal, 12, 28-32. Retrieved May 15, 2012, from Features/v12-f4.pdf Features/v12-f4.pdf Steinbock, B. (2008, October 11). Designer babies: choosing our children's genes. The Lancet, 372(9646), 1294-1295. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(08)61345-8

17 Picture References legal-draw-controversy/ legal-draw-controversy/ _mar.htm _mar.htm trends/the-price-of-embryo-screening/article2294658/ trends/the-price-of-embryo-screening/article2294658/ future-should-we-be-peering-into-the-womb/ future-should-we-be-peering-into-the-womb/

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