Genetic Editing as a a Type of Genetic Engineering

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Genetic editing is applied to animals and plants a long time ago, however, there is almost no experiment related to applying genetic editing on the human body. This is mainly due to the conflict behind this topic. Most people and media seems to oppose to applying genetic editing on humans because they think that applying genetic editing on human breaks the religious doctrine, and it is very dangerous to apply genetic editing on humans because it is genetic editing on humans is very different compared with applying genetic editing on animals and plants.

On the other hand, the people who agree to apply genetic editing on human thinks that this technology can make humans a better species and can cure many diseases. Moreover, it is also very important to understand the specific reasons why people agree or disagree with appling genetic editing on humans. Although applying genetic editing on human seems to be very dangerous and opposed by most people, what kind of benefits makes some people still try to study this technology.

Genome editing (or called gene editing) is a kind of technologies that makes scientists able to change an organism’s DNA. According to Britannica, this ability allows genetic material to be added, or removed in the DNA sequence of a living organism. Gene editing is applying by using enzymes, specifically nucleases that have been edited to target a DNA sequence, where they add cuts into the DNA strands, allow to remove existing DNA and add replacement DNA. CRISPR-Cas9 is molecular that is known as the Key of gene-editing technologies.

CRISPR-Cas9 is precision accurate, due to the fact that it allows researchers to take out and add DNA in the specific locations. The discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA started the idea of using gene editing to treat disease or change traits. In the mid-20th-century era of genetic discovery, researchers realized that the sequence of bases in DNA is inherited mainly from parent to offspring and that small changes in the sequence can something different between health and disease.

In 1973, Herb Boyer and Stanley Cohen created the first genetically edited organism, which is a bacteria with an added gene to confer antibiotic resistance. On the other hand, the development of genetic editing for gene therapy is difficult. Most of the early progress can only try to reduce their effects by adding a functional copy of the mutated gene(only effective for limited conditions), instead of correcting genetic mistakes in the DNA. However, in the last two decades, gene editing becomes one of the most popular fields in science, and there are also many breakthroughs in gene editing.

For example, in 2003, geneticist Austin Burt proposes his finding of ‘selfish gene’, which is a gene that guarantees inheritance by most offspring and could be used as a biocontrol against another species. In 2017, research teams in Texas and Australia announce gene drive house mice, which is the first use of gene drive in a mammal. Nowadays, scientists editing gene by using CRISPR-Cas9, which is a unique technology that enables geneticists and medical researchers to edit parts of the genome by removing, adding or change sections of the DNA sequence.

Recently, according to “The Guardian” newspaper: there is a Chinese scientist claim that he has created the world first gene-edited babies. The scientist who conducts this experiment is He Jiankui from Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen. He says that he changes embryos for seven couples during fertility treatments, with one pregnancy resulting at this point. He said that his goal was not to cure or prevent an inherited disease but to try to give others a trait that few people naturally have: an ability to resist possible future infection with HIV. Unlike other breakthroughs in gene editing, which are highly regarded by people, there is a huge debate happing after this scientist announced his achievement.

Many experts think it is very dangerous and not ethical to editing human gene. Dr. Sarah Chan, a bioethicist at the University of Edinburgh, says “The claim made by those responsible for the research is that the babies have been genome edited in an attempt to make them immune to HIV. The lifetime risk of contracting HIV is extremely low in the first place; there are other means of prevention and it is no longer an incurable, inevitably terminal disease. Putting these children at such drastic risk for such a marginal gain is unjustifiable.” She also said that if this experiment is true, the experiment was “of grave ethical concern”.

Although there are many people who disagree to apply gene editing on human, there are still some held a different opinion. According to John Harris (who is a professor emeritus in science ethics at the University of Manchester, U.K., and the author of How to be Good, Oxford University Press 2016). Even though there are arguments like modifying genomes is inherently dangerous because people are no able to how gene editing will affect individuals and their offsprings. Those people who fear the risks of gene editing don’t consider the dangers of the “natural” way we reproduce. Two-thirds of human embryos fail to develop successfully, most of them die in the first month of pregnancy.

And every year, 7.9 million children, 6 percent of total births worldwide, are born with a serious defect of genetic or partially genetic origin. Therefore, It is very important that we need to know as much as possible about the risks of gene-editing human embryos before such research can proceed. On the other hand, as the people suffer and die due to the diseases caused by such terrible single-gene disorders, such as cystic fibrosis and Huntington’s disease, those suffering and death might be averted if people agree to use genetic editing. The decision to delay such research should not be made lightly, consider this research is related to the lives and profits of so many people. The priority should be saving as many lives as possible, instead of talking about ethics side-effect, and other things that genetic editing can cause

Beside saving or cure the people with gene disorder, apply genetic editing on a human can also help to eliminate the microbes that cause diseases. Though treatments for HIV have turned the infection from a virulent killer to a livable health condition, scientists still haven’t found a cure. That could change with CRISPR. In 2017, a team of Chinese researchers successfully resistance HIV in a mice’s body by replicating a mutation of a gene that effectively prevents the virus from entering cells. For now, scientists are only conducting these experiments in animals, but there’s a reason to think the same methods could work in humans. The mutation that encourages HIV resistance naturally occurs in a small percentage of people.

However, by using CRISPR to introduce the mutation to human stem cells that lack it, researchers could also apply HIV resistance in humans in the future. Moreover, Another gene-editing trial in China started in July 2018 and attempted to use CRISPR to destroyed the genes of the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a virus that has been shown to cause cervical cancer tumor growth. While researchers in China got some breakthrough in curing HIV by applying genetic editing, the researchers in the U.S. also achieve some breakthrough in curing HIV by applying genetic editing through different approaches.

According to the New York Times reports, researchers recently invented a new cutting-edge way to edit the genome of CD4 immune cells. This method is not only faster but more precise than currently used methods. As early research about this method has focused to cure cancer or autoimmune diseases by controlling immune cells, scientists believe it could be used to construct HIV-resistant CD4 cells.The researchers said that they are using a deactivated virus, known as a viral vector, to deliver genetic code into cells.

In the HIV cure arena, scientists draw stem cells that give rise to CD4 cells from an individual with the virus and use viral vectors to insert new genes into those cells that lack a key co-receptor on their surface to which HIV attaches in order to infect the cell. The scientists will then cultivate a large number of such stem cells, reinfuse them into the individual’s body and hope they flourish and populate the immune system with a long-lasting source of immune cells impervious to HIV’s assault.. As long as, people allow applying gene editing on human, gene editing can save millions of lives, and cure millions of people.

According to Keith Speights, there are more than 35,000 organ transplants were performed last year, which seems like a good news. On the other hand, over 115,000 men, women, and children are waiting for organs transplant at this point. Moreover, every 10 minutes, another person is added to the list. Twenty people die each day while waiting for a transplant. Researchers try to introduce different solutions to this problem.

For example, in the past, organs from individuals with hepatitis C couldn’t be used for transplants. Now, Researchers are looking for solutions that allow patients on the transplant list to receive organs from donors who have hepatitis C. After the transplant, they’re given a drug such as Harvoni that cures the disease, and the experimental approach has been successful so far. On the other hand, even innovative approaches like this one have their limits. Only three out of 1,000 deaths occur in the ways that allow for organ transparent. And only half of U.S. adults sign up as potential donors. One alternative is to transplant organs from pigs into humans.

Pigs have hearts, livers, and kidneys that can be similar enough in size and in functionality to work in humans. However, there is a serious problem with this method. Pigs have retroviruses, which is a kind of viruses that have inserted part of their DNA into their host’s DNA. These retroviruses could possibly harm humans. Also, human bodies could reject the organs transplanted from pigs. Fortunately, gene editing could address these problems, which means solving the organ transplant crisis. Researchers are attempting to use CRISPR to cut the retroviruses out of pigs’ DNA and to solve the human DNA’s rejection of pigs’ DNA by applying gene editing to humans. If people allow using gene editing on humans, and this research also successes, this will be a huge breakthrough for human, due to the fact that this technology can save lots of people, and nobody has to wait for new organs anymore.

While there are so many advantages about applying gene editing on human, there are still lots of voice that protest to do so. Due to the possibility of off-target effects (edits in the wrong place) and mosaicism (when some cells carry the edit but others do not), the safety of applying gene editing on humans is still a huge issue. Researchers who have written and spoken about gene editing, such as those present at the International Summit on Human Gene Editing, all agree that until gene editing is proven safe through research, it should not be used for clinical reproductive purposes.

These researchers demand that the risk of applying gene editing on humans cannot be justified by the potential benefit. Although some researchers argue that there may never be a time when genome editing in embryos will offer a benefit greater than that of existing technologies, such as preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and in-vitro fertilization (IVF), other scientists and bioethicists think that gene editing can address needs not met by PGD in some situations. These situations include when both prospective parents are homozygous for a disease-causing variant (they both have two copies of the variant, so all of their children would be expected to have the disease), cases of polygenic disorders, which are influenced by more than one gene, and for families who reject to some elements of the PGD process.

Some researchers and bioethicists are concerned that some gene editing, even for curing uses, can eventually to use gene editing for non-therapeutic and enhancement purposes, which many views as controversial. Others argue that genome editing, once proved safe and effective, should be allowed to cure a genetic disease, but the still believe that concerns about enhancement should be managed through policy and regulation. Lastly, critics on the issue are concerned that the use of gene editing for reproductive purposes will be managed differently inside and outside of the U.S., which might cause objection in different regions. These arguments cite the largely self-regulated environments of the reproductive clinics that offer PGD and IVF and the existing differences in regulations among different countries. As a result, even though people approve to apply gene editing on people, it will be hard to manage.

Except for the concern about the safety of applying gene editing on human, many people also think that applying gene editing on humans is an act that breaks the teaching of God. For example, According to Jeff Hardin that in Psalm 139:13-14: “you formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” For the people who deeply believe in God, this quote expresses his care for each one of humans, even before humans are born, while humans are still embryos. Additionally, the strong believers of God think that humans bear God’s image, which is written in the chapter of the Bible (Gen. 1:26-27): “In the image of God he made them, male and female, he made them” ( Gen. 9:6). According to a survey by Pew Charitable Trust: the percentage of adults in the United States who adhere to a religion and believe that “gene editing is meddling with nature and crosses a line we should not cross.” Those with strong religious commitments were the most likely to agree with the view that gene editing crosses a line, those with a moderate commitment agreed in lower numbers, and those with low religious commitment agreed in extremely low numbers.

George Church(molecular biologist) said: “If these fixes for severe diseases are shown to be safe and effective, why would small or large enhancements accompanying the fixes be unacceptable?” Which is basically saying that as appling genetic editing on humans is safe and effective so far, why people don’t improve this technology and use it on a larger scale. Church’s idea shows that scientists and some people tend to get to exciting and trustful to a new technology, which causes them to ignore the potential side effect. For example, there was a very serious event called “The Great Smog of 1952” that happened in London. From Friday, 5 December to Tuesday, 9 December 1952, the air of the London suddenly became extremely bad alone with a think layer of smog over the city. This smog caused major disruption by reducing visibility in outdoor areas and even penetrating through indoor areas, which was much more serious than before. According to government medical report, the smog directly caused 4,000 people’s deaths, and damage 100,000 people’s respiratory tracts. The cause of this tragic event was the overuse of coal. During that time people had just invented to use coal as the power that kept everyone warm, and people feel very convenient about this invention. Therefore, people started to use this technology without any consideration about the side effect, which finally caused this tragic event to happen. Nowadays, many people and scientists think applying gene editing on humans will greatly improve humans’lives. However, it seems like that it is too early to make a conclusion before figuring all the possible side effects and disadvantages, consider the tragic of “The Great Smog of 1952”.

About public opinion, according to Pew Research Center, Americans have very diverse emotional reactions to the possibility of using gene editing to reduce a baby’s risk of serious diseases, although more people express concern rather than enthusiasm. Fully two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) say the prospect makes them either “very” or “somewhat” worried, while roughly half (49%) say they are “very” or “somewhat” enthusiastic about this technology. Three-in-ten adults are both enthusiastic and worried. This result is reasonable, even though America is known as one of the world most advanced country, but the large proportion of religious believers make these people reject to apply gene editing on humans. On the other hand, asked to consider whether they would want this kind of gene editing for their own baby, Americans are split, with 48% saying they would want to use this technology for their child and a nearly identical share saying they would not. Parents who currently have a child under age 18 tend to say they would reject this kind of gene editing for their own baby as 59% of parent would not want to use gene editing for their child.

As the majority of American object to apply gene editing on human, many Chinese seems supportive of this technology. One of the reason is that in China therapy of HIV is extremely high, and only a small portion of rich people can afford it. Moreover, if a family has a child with a genetic disorder disease, such as Down’s syndrome, Marfan syndrome, and other diseases, there is no way for a normal family to afford the expense of cost for treatments. Therefore, there are only two ways to solve these problems, either post their child’s story online and ask for the donation, or just abandon their child. As a result, most Chinese support applying gene editing on human, since it can save so many lives and stop millions from suffering. Even though, there might be some unknown side effects or disadvantages. Moreover, many Chinese believe that appling gene editing on humans can make these world more equal as this technology can make both poor and rich better, which still cannot reach the absolute equality, but can somewhat make the gap between different stratum smaller. Just like when people develop fertilizer, which makes poor people able to have full meals like rich people.

Applying genetic editing on humans can cure HIV in close future, which had caused the death of more than 60 million people, and every day there will be 7000 new cases of HIV. Applying genetic editing on humans can also cure genetic disorders; there are around 6000 types of genetic disorders where each of them can cause ton’s of pain to a innocent kid and make the whole family suffer. Applying genetic editing on humans can make transforming pig’s organs to humans become possible, while twenty people die each day while waiting for a transplant.

It is true that at this point apply genetic editing on humans is still risky, consider this is still a immature technology, has unknown side effects that affect offsprings, and violate ethics, moral, and religion. On the other hand, consider the number of people this technology can save and help, stop this technology from developing is just like murdering people. All in all, I support applying genetic editing on human simply because it can bring much more benefits to society than what this technology might cause. “ “The Great Smog of 1952” caused 4,000 people’s deaths, and damage 100,000 people’s respiratory tracts, but it saves all the people in London from frozen to death. Applying genetic editing oo humans is the same thing


Cite this paper

Genetic Editing as a a Type of Genetic Engineering. (2021, Mar 21). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/genetic-editing-as-a-a-type-of-genetic-engineering/



Is gene editing genetic engineering?
Yes, gene editing is a type of genetic engineering that involves making specific changes to an organism's DNA sequence. It can be used to add, remove, or modify genes in order to improve traits or treat genetic disorders.
What are the 4 types of genetic engineering?
The four types of genetic engineering are gene editing, gene therapy, transgenic technology, and reproductive cloning.
What are the types of gene editing?
There are two types of gene editing: insertional and deletional. Insertional gene editing involves inserting new DNA into a gene. Deletional gene editing involves deleting DNA from a gene.
What is editing in genetic engineering?
Green HRM is important because it can help organizations to be more environmentally sustainable and to reduce their carbon footprint. Additionally, green HRM practices can also help to engage and motivate employees, as well as improve organizational image and reputation.
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