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Dec 4, 201812:44 PMInside Wisconsin

with Tom Still

Gene-modified babies violate scientific ethics and process

(page 2 of 2)

How was the gene editing done? By using a gene-editing technique called CRISPR, which enables scientists to make precise changes in DNA. The technique is changing how research is done at institutions such as the UW–Madison and could lead to significant breakthroughs.

In fact, the UW–Madison’s program for advanced cell therapy aims to develop personalized cell therapies for immune and malignant disorders. It will follow protocols set by the university and the federal government in finding ways to test cell therapies that work in adults and children, using the patient’s own cells and tissues.

Until now, however, scientists have refused to open the Pandora’s box of cell manipulation in embryos. The reasons are practical as well as ethical. For example, such changes could be passed down from one generation to the next or open the door to “designer babies” that are modified for non-medical reasons, such as being taller or stronger.

The scientific world hasn’t reached consensus on how to safely and ethically edit embryos, nor is it sure it should be done at all. This is one Pandora’s box that should remain shut for now.

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About This Blog

Tom Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. He is the former associate editor of the Wisconsin State Journal.

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