CRISPR: showing that gene editing will prevent genetic

CRISPR: The Future of Gene Editing

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, also known as

Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats

CRISPR
tool that has the power to alter the genetic blueprint of all living organisms. This type of tool has
the potential to be of great use to the American society but also has the potential to change the
way Americans see life juristically. An immense number of scientific scholars argue that
CRISPR technology has the ability to create a slippery slope down the wrong path but I believe
otherwise. This paper seeks to prove that CRISPR technology has the ability to do more good
than harm. By showing that gene editing will prevent genetic diseases, eliminate single gene
disorders, and broaden our knowledge on genes, I will prove that CRISPR technology should be
accepted despite the fear of designer babies.

Several others share my position on gene editing. This includes researchers from the
University of Oxford: Christopher Gyngell, Thomas Douglas, Julian Savulescu (“The Ethics of
Germline Gene Editing.” Journal of Applied Philosophy, vol. 34, no. 4, Sept. 2016, pp. 498–
513). Their article, “The Ethics of Germline Gene Editing,” discussed the positive and negative
effects of gene editing to an audience that has strongly resisted its progression. Although
germline gene editing has some flaws, their article concludes that the aim of the technology is so
great that it cannot be overlooked. That aim is to “prevent genetic diseases. Roughly 6% of
babies are born with a serious birth defect” of genetic origin and this technology can give them
the chance at a normal life (Gyngell et al., 500). One might argue that the percentage is so small

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that the potential dangers of this technology make it not worth the risk. However, every life
saved is a considerable victory.

The authors of “The Ethics of Germline Gene Editing” intended to give a well-rounded
analysis on the potential of gene editing. They tackled the obvious reasons to ban this type of
technology: it’s unnecessary and unsafe. This article agrees that human embryos should not be
manipulated until safety concerns can be put to rest; but, other methods of disease prevention,
such as in-vitro fertilization, have not always been successful. The authors also argue that
germline gene editing should be pursued for the sake of research. Many developmental biologists
seek to understand how human embryos mature and germline gene editing “could have a unique
and beneficial role to play in this research” (Gyngell et al, 506). This technology can have
multiple purposes.

A developmental biologist by the name of Rita Vassena, along with five of her
colleagues, gave a different perspective on gene editing. Their article, “Genome Engineering
Through CRISPR/Cas9 Technology in the Human Germline and Pluripotent Stem Cells,” was
written for the scientific community to explain the possible impact of CRISPR technology
(Vassena, R., et al. Journal of Human Reproduction Update, vol. 22, no 4, June 2016, pp. 411–
419). The authors conclude that CRISPR technology has the potential lead the path in genome
editing but it must clarify “technical and ethical issues” before doing so (Vassena, R., et al.).
Although CRISPR technology would be a simpler and more affordable route to cure effects
individuals, it should be used as a last resort. This article’s biggest concern is that CRISPR could
harm human embryos in one aspect while helping them in another. Yes, this gene therapy can cut
away at genetically diseased genes but it could also lead to off-target affects such as mosaicism.
Mosaicism is a type of cell mutation that leads to birth defects such as Down Syndrome. This

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safety issue would have to be resolved before any interaction between human embryos and
CRISPR could be made. These authors also spark the argument that CRISPR should be accepted
for learning purposes. This type of research could answer “fundamental questions of
developmental biology” that involve altering genes and improving genome technology (Vassena,
R., et al.).

The final source in this argument for CRISPR technology is an article from two clinical
science researchers in Sweden. Fredrik Lanner and Alvaro Plaza Reyes’ article, “Towards a
CRISPR View of Early Human Development: Applications, Limitations and Ethical Concerns of
Genome Editing in Human Embryos,” is aimed toward an audience that is unaware of all the
CRISPR genome editing system has to offer (Journal of Development, vol. 144, no. 1, Jan. 2017,
pp. 3–7). Their purpose is to analyze the advancement of human embryo research and allow their
audience to take a position on the matter. There were several similarities between Lanner and
Reyes’ article and the article from the researchers at the University of Oxford. However, Lanner
and Reyes’ article presents one argument that the other researchers did not. They acknowledge
that CRISPR technology has the potential to be misused in the future. This argument hints at the
fact that this technology could begin a slippery slope toward designer babies. However, to ease
the mind of their audience on this subject, they point out that if the research on donated human
embryos is limited, “to the first 14 days of development and not… transferred into a woman,”
then it can be regulated to avoid misuse (Lanner and Reyes). There are ways to prevent designer
babies from coming to fruition, as long as scientists understand the limitations of this technology
and adhere to them.

I argue that CRISPR should be explored for the purpose of research and disease
prevention after all safety measures have been taken. This innovative technology can create a

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healthier life for individuals who would have initially been disabled. CRISPR also gives us more
knowledge about genetics and human embryos that could not be researched otherwise. The
public should not jump to negative conclusions about this technology and, instead, stay open
minded about its future. Our primary concern should be to save genetically diseased and disabled
children. This technology permits that goal. The argument that CRISPR technology is a slippery
slope toward designer babies is nothing but a fallacy. Designer babies will not inevitably follow
CRISPR technology as long as limitations to its research are set and scientist handle this
technology responsibly. It is possible for gene therapy to be used productively overtime without
being compromised because there are other routes to producing a healthy child and CRISPR
should be used as a last resort.

The general public may wonder why CRISPR technology matters; issues regarding gene
editing have never been more complex than they are today. It is crucial that researchers find a
balance between the benefits of this technology and the potential harm it could have on our
society. If CRISPR technology lives up to its expectations, it will ultimately be left up to us to
decide how it will shape our future. The goal of this argument is not only to present the purpose
of technology in its best light. It is also meant to spread awareness on the type of technology that
will continue to develop in the future.