“NATIONAL consultation on designer babies by Ian Sample, science correspondent. Friday July 16, 2004. The Guardian
An unprecedented nationwide consultation on the genetic testing of embryos and babies in the womb is to be launched today by the Human Genetics Commission.
ATF – Copies of the report are available from the Human Genetics Commission UK here.
Among the other issues the HGC is seeking views on is the creation of “designer babies”. The prospect of genetically enhancing an embryo to ensure its intelligence, beauty or sporting prowess is still firmly in the realm of science fiction, as scientists have such a poor understanding of the underlying genetics involved. But the technology exists for embryos to be selected on the basis of simple genetic traits, such as sex.
Other traits, such as whether the tissue of a newborn will match that of a sibling, can also be selected – giving rise to controversial “saviour siblings”, where an embryo is chosen on the grounds of it being a good tissue donor.
In theory, tissue taken from the newborn could be used to treat a sibling with a medical disorder that cannot be treated any other way. While the technique is legal in the US, it is banned in Britain as law prevents the creation of life to save a life.
ATF – I’m convinced that obtaining stem cells from the umbilical cord of a full match brother or sister increases the chances for success in a bone marrow transplant. One of the main risks of bone marrow transplantation is graft vs. host disease. This is when the new cells attack its host because they consider it an external invader. If cells are similar then there’s a lower chance for rejection.
Should designer babies be allowed?
Should pregnant women be able to have the same genetic tests as women undergoing IVF and other fertility treatments?
Should there be a limit to the disorders a baby can be screened for?
Should babies be genetically profiled at birth?
Is counselling sufficient for parents seeking genetic tests?
What are the implications of falling sperm counts?
Can the NHS take the strain?
Find the complete article here.
ATF – Very interesting consultation.