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To Snip or Not to Snip…DNA Discoveries Making Science Fiction Fact

By David Kreiner MD

March 14th, 2017 at 1:04 pm

 

image purchased at shutterstock


Working in the field of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) for over thirty years, I am in awe of the powerful potential our technology offers. Today Pre-Implantation Genetic Screening (PGS) is routinely offered to fertility patients undergoing IVF to test the chromosomes of embryos that a patient has created prior to Embryo Transfer.  If PGS shows a normal complement of chromosomes then a single embryo transferred has an approximate 50% chance of resulting in a pregnancy with a less than 10% chance of miscarriage.  As gender can be identified by this process, selection based on gender is available.

Many question the ethics of any manipulation of embryos including selecting the embryo for transfer based on gender.  Although I am not fond of those equating family balancing with genetic engineering, I do share their concern of clinical tampering with the DNA of embryos.

Technology in IVF is reaching the point where DNA may be snipped, removed and/or implanted.  Clinically, one can foresee where diseases and serious health conditions may be cured or prevented by such pre-embryo manipulations.  Though I am tempted to cure or eliminate disease and serious health conditions, I worry that when we snip to cure we may unknowingly create some new malady– perhaps of a nature we have not previously envisioned.

The Brave New World of Aldous Huxley may be upon us but whether you view this world as positive in its ability to give man the power to eliminate disease or negative because you fear that man in his limited knowledge is apt to cause unforeseen damage is based on your own individual perspective and it is society’s duty to control in a responsible way the utilization of this new technology.

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Do you see the power to eliminate disease by snipping, removing or implanting DNA as a positive or negative? Why?

 

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