By Ji Soo
The tragedy of Frankenstein could be a reality
Obsessed with the desire to discover the secret of life, Victor Frankenstein studies natural philosophy and chemistry. He pours his prodigious effort and time in his research to create a life. The fruit of his feverish desire is the Monster.
For nearly three decades, scientists have been tenaciously clinging to the herculean job of genetically designed baby. However, designer babies will eventually become a factor that threatens human species by playing Nature.
The painstaking effort that scientists have poured in the “designer baby” over the last century has born juicy fruit: Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, CRISPR. CRISPR technology uses molecular scissors called Cas9 to cut and eliminate the targeted DNA and paste another DNA. Using this technology, scientists design an embryo’s gene to prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s or breast cancer. Soon, in a clinic, you can be given a set of options for your baby’s traits such as gender, appearance, talents, and propensity.
However, how would Nature punish humans for tinkering her works up with the scissors?
Designer baby will shrink the gene pool of human species, which must lead to gruesome deformity. Nature has already given warning to the reckless arrogant human.
Fused Limbs of the Vadoma Tribe in Zimbabwe.
“The ostrich people” got their name from their birdlike feet; they have fused limbs. Isolated in a small village in Zimbabwe for a long time, they have done incest, which led to a lack in genetic diversity. This diminutive gene pool resulted in the agony deformation that never goes away.
“Hemophilia” has another name—“ Royal Disease”. In Europe during the mid-1800s, most of the royal families suffered from this bloody disease, which is also the grisly curse of the slim gene pool caused by the long-lasting tradition— marriage between closely related royal families.
Habsburg Jaw of the Spanish Royal families.
“Habsburg Jaw” was occurred in Spain House from the mid-1400s to the mid-1700s. It severely impacted underbites of the royal family by giving them long and jutting lower jaw. Charles II of Spain drooled seriously and could not speak or chew properly with his severe underbite. Also, the result of lack in gene caused by incest.
Designer Baby will surely reduce the diversity of the gene pool. If we can learn a fatal lesson from the past, we don’t need to stretch our imagination to predict egregious side effects of interference in the work of Nature.
More horrific is the danger of CRISPR. According to the Nature Cell Biology, scientific journal, during the gene modification process DNA has been removed, rearranged and inverted more than enough. This will lead the embryo to the danger of getting unknown diseases or even death.
Moreover, according to Allan Bradley Professor of Britain Wellcome Sanger Institute, CRISPR could inadvertently increase risk in cancer. One of the major purposes of CRISPR was to eliminate the disease risks, however, ironically CRISPR causes cancers.
CRISPR latches on to RNA, in order to lead the sequence of RNA to modify the gene. Another flaw of CRISPR came in here. According to Scientists’ record, CRISPR often latches on the wrong RNA and cut more traits than it wanted or cut something completely different. This causes unwanted mutations and weakening the cellular structure.
In 2015, China has tested out slight CRISPR modification in human embryos lead by Jungju Huang. The result was shocking. Out of 86 embryos used in the test, only 28 of them were survived after 48 hours. The rest of the modified embryos showed complex mutations.
DNA, carrier of all the information of life, is still a mystery. With just one snap of the scissors, scientists cannot crack the secret to DNA. Incomplete knowledge can bring out hasty editing of traits that they don’t understand. How can you try to modify something, even when you are not knowledgeable of what you are manipulating?
The vanity that you know everything about nature is a great delusion. Hence, toying with nature, which you don’t understand fully will cause catastrophic consequences.
CRISPR is a gamble risking life since the technology contains fatal side effects and blind side.
It will be the gate to the monstrous disaster to the whole mankind.
13 Important Genetic Engineering Pros And Cons. BioExplorer.Net, 26 Dec. 2018. http://www.bioexplorer.net/genetic-engineering-pros-and-cons.html/.
Ayres, Crystal. Human Genetic Engineering. GREENGARAGEBLOG.ORG , 18 July 2015, greengarageblog.org/5-standout-pros-and-cons-of-human-genetic-engineering.
Ayyar, Aparna. CRISPR gene editing – safe or unsafe? 10 July 2017, http://www.editage.com/insights/crispr-gene-editing-safe-or-unsafe.
CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing scissors are less accurate than we thought, but there are fixes. The Australian National University, 23 July 2018, science.anu.edu.au/news-events/opinion/crisprcas9-gene-editing-scissors-are-less-accurate-we-thought-there-are-fixes.
Kelland, Kate. CRISPR gene editing can cause risky collateral DNA damage: study. Reuters, 16 July 2018, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-genes-crispr/crispr-gene-editing-can-cause-risky-collateral-dna-damage-study-idUSKBN1K61YT.