Designer babies

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Designer babies

Post by Anaxagoras » Thu Aug 03, 2017 7:13 am

It is now technically possible and the concept has been experimentally proven:

First Human Embryos Edited in U.S.
The first known attempt at creating genetically modified human embryos in the United States has been carried out by a team of researchers in Portland, Oregon, MIT Technology Review has learned.

The effort, led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health and Science University, involved changing the DNA of a large number of one-cell embryos with the gene-editing technique CRISPR, according to people familiar with the scientific results.

Until now, American scientists have watched with a combination of awe, envy, and some alarm as scientists elsewhere were first to explore the controversial practice. To date, three previous reports of editing human embryos were all published by scientists in China.

Now Mitalipov is believed to have broken new ground both in the number of embryos experimented upon and by demonstrating that it is possible to safely and efficiently correct defective genes that cause inherited diseases.

Although none of the embryos were allowed to develop for more than a few days—and there was never any intention of implanting them into a womb—the experiments are a milestone on what may prove to be an inevitable journey toward the birth of the first genetically modified humans.

In altering the DNA code of human embryos, the objective of scientists is to show that they can eradicate or correct genes that cause inherited disease, like the blood condition beta-thalassemia. The process is termed “germline engineering” because any genetically modified child would then pass the changes on to subsequent generations via their own germ cells—the egg and sperm.

Some critics say germline experiments could open the floodgates to a brave new world of “designer babies” engineered with genetic enhancements—a prospect bitterly opposed by a range of religious organizations, civil society groups, and biotech companies.

The U.S. intelligence community last year called CRISPR a potential "weapon of mass destruction.”
Better technique

The earlier Chinese publications, although limited in scope, found CRISPR caused editing errors and that the desired DNA changes were taken up not by all the cells of an embryo, only some. That effect, called mosaicism, lent weight to arguments that germline editing would be an unsafe way to create a person.

But Mitalipov and his colleagues are said to have convincingly shown that it is possible to avoid both mosaicism and “off-target” effects, as the CRISPR errors are known.
Genetic enhancement

Born in Kazakhstan when it was part of the former Soviet Union, Mitalipov has for years pushed scientific boundaries. In 2007, he unveiled the world’s first cloned monkeys. Then, in 2013, he created human embryos through cloning, as a way of creating patient-specific stem cells.

His team’s move into embryo editing coincides with a report by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in February that was widely seen as providing a green light for lab research on germline modification.

The report also offered qualified support for the use of CRISPR for making gene-edited babies, but only if it were deployed for the elimination of serious diseases.

The advisory committee drew a red line at genetic enhancements—like higher intelligence. “Genome editing to enhance traits or abilities beyond ordinary health raises concerns about whether the benefits can outweigh the risks, and about fairness if available only to some people,” said Alta Charo, co-chair of the NAS’s study committee and professor of law and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

In the U.S., any effort to turn an edited IVF embryo into a baby has been blocked by Congress, which added language to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration funding bill forbidding it from approving clinical trials of the concept.

Despite such barriers, the creation of a gene-edited person could be attempted at any moment, including by IVF clinics operating facilities in countries where there are no such legal restrictions.
Is Congress right to forbid this practice? I wonder if it just means that other countries will take the lead.

Anyone sympathetic to transhumanism?
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Re: Designer babies

Post by xouper » Thu Aug 03, 2017 7:48 am

Homo Excogitatoris?

Homo Architecto?

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Re: Designer babies

Post by Abdul Alhazred » Thu Aug 03, 2017 9:33 am

I assume there will be some sort of ethical guidelines, but of course if you're rich enough ...
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Re: Designer babies

Post by ed » Thu Aug 03, 2017 10:23 am

Can you remove racial characteristics?

Interesting implications
- new minimalist ethos -

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Re: Designer babies

Post by Pyrrho » Thu Aug 03, 2017 10:50 am

I regard this news with my customary level of "Yeah, right."
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Re: Designer babies

Post by Pyrrho » Thu Aug 03, 2017 10:52 am

ed wrote:Can you remove racial characteristics?

Interesting implications
At last a way to make it so white men can jump.
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Re: Designer babies

Post by Abdul Alhazred » Thu Aug 03, 2017 12:13 pm

ed wrote:Can you remove racial characteristics?

Interesting implications
Or invent new ones?

Interesting indeed.
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Re: Designer babies

Post by Abdul Alhazred » Thu Aug 03, 2017 12:14 pm

Time to worry about the army of gay clones yet?

No?
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Re: Designer babies

Post by ed » Thu Aug 03, 2017 12:17 pm

"Ambi-sexual" or maybe "Poly-sexual"

Actually, sex is sorta irrelevant, right?
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Re: Designer babies

Post by Abdul Alhazred » Thu Aug 03, 2017 12:20 pm

ed wrote:"Ambi-sexual" or maybe "Poly-sexual"

Actually, sex is sorta irrelevant, right?
Where are your aesthetics, Old Boy? :lmao:
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Re: Designer babies

Post by Nyarlathotep » Thu Aug 03, 2017 3:31 pm

Anaxagoras wrote:
Anyone sympathetic to transhumanism?
I am, though I doubt any of its more spectacular promises will be fulfilled in our lifetime.

And frankly, I have no problem with the concept of 'designer babies'. My only caveat is that any proposed changes to an embryo be understood enough that one can safely say that the benefits outweigh the risks. Because I do know that genetics is a weird thing where changing one thing CAN change something you would never expect. For instance, I was listening once to a geneticist talk about dogs. As humans domesticated dogs, they selected for dogs that were less fearful of humans, ones whose adrenal responses were not so quick. Turns out that Adrenal glands functioning and the amount of cartilage in a dogs ear are controlled by the same set of genes. Thus why domestic dogs tend to have floppy ears but wolves and other wild dogs do not.

So as long as whatever tradeoffs for whatever is done are understood and are benign (i.e we don't trade enhanced intelligence for a greater risk of cystic fibrosis or something), I am okay with the idea.
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Re: Designer babies

Post by Abdul Alhazred » Thu Aug 03, 2017 3:39 pm

As long as it's about preventing birth defects, I have no problem with it.

But if you want a baby with tentacles, you better adopt one.
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Re: Designer babies

Post by gnome » Thu Aug 03, 2017 5:26 pm

Nyarlathotep wrote:
Anaxagoras wrote:
Anyone sympathetic to transhumanism?
I am, though I doubt any of its more spectacular promises will be fulfilled in our lifetime.

And frankly, I have no problem with the concept of 'designer babies'. My only caveat is that any proposed changes to an embryo be understood enough that one can safely say that the benefits outweigh the risks. Because I do know that genetics is a weird thing where changing one thing CAN change something you would never expect. For instance, I was listening once to a geneticist talk about dogs. As humans domesticated dogs, they selected for dogs that were less fearful of humans, ones whose adrenal responses were not so quick. Turns out that Adrenal glands functioning and the amount of cartilage in a dogs ear are controlled by the same set of genes. Thus why domestic dogs tend to have floppy ears but wolves and other wild dogs do not.

So as long as whatever tradeoffs for whatever is done are understood and are benign (i.e we don't trade enhanced intelligence for a greater risk of cystic fibrosis or something), I am okay with the idea.
My only worry is that of a permanent genetic underclass... generational poverty and lack of political influence. This already occurs with us being on a relatively equal genetic footing. But if advancement opportunities now become tied to what modifications your parents could afford, it makes that gap wider and more intractable.

That said, were the technology actually available I don't think laws could stop it from doing that for very long.
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Re: Designer babies

Post by Abdul Alhazred » Thu Aug 03, 2017 5:32 pm

That's it! The key to transhuman paradise.

Breed a race of perfect slaves who love being slaves.

Nothing unethical about it if they are happy, right? :)
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Re: Designer babies

Post by Nyarlathotep » Thu Aug 03, 2017 5:38 pm

There is no "I love slavery" gene.

That would be a matter of nurture, not nature.
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Re: Designer babies

Post by Abdul Alhazred » Thu Aug 03, 2017 5:45 pm

Nyarlathotep wrote:There is no "I love slavery" gene.
A single gene for loving slavery, no. But some combination, maybe.
You know someone will try it eventually, presuming that technological civilization survives.
That would be a matter of nurture, not nature.
Nope. That's been tried a lot and it never works.
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Re: Designer babies

Post by Nyarlathotep » Thu Aug 03, 2017 5:47 pm

People might try lots of things eventually. That people might eventually attempt to misuse technology is no argument against technology.
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Re: Designer babies

Post by Grammatron » Thu Aug 03, 2017 6:05 pm

Nyarlathotep wrote:People might try lots of things eventually. That people might eventually attempt to misuse technology is no argument against technology.
A ray of optimism shines through
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Re: Designer babies

Post by gnome » Thu Aug 03, 2017 6:11 pm

My scenario isn't necessarily one of deliberate misuse--I worry about it as a sociological consequence of people simply following their own interest without any thoughts of harm to anyone else (at least, no more than typically).

I agree it isn't an argument against the technology per se. Just whether we need to work out a few social issues before it's wise to choose to apply it in that fashion.

I see it as no different than limiting the nuclear club. It reduces its exposure to irrational actors, not that nuculars=evuls!
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Re: Designer babies

Post by Nyarlathotep » Thu Aug 03, 2017 6:24 pm

Grammatron wrote:
Nyarlathotep wrote:People might try lots of things eventually. That people might eventually attempt to misuse technology is no argument against technology.
A ray of optimism shines through

If we avoided every technology that might have dire consequences I don't think we would have gotten past the invention of fire.
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