Ethical implications of using CRISPR

Ethical implications of using CRISPR.

The debate about genome editing is not a new one but has regained attention following the discovery that CRISPR has the potential to make such editing more accurate and even “easy” in comparison to older technologies. Bioethicists and researchers generally believe that human genome editing for reproductive purposes should not be attempted at this time, but that studies that would make gene therapy safe and effective should continue. Most stakeholders agree that it is important to have continuing public deliberation and debate to allow the public to decide whether or not germline editing should be permissible. As of 2014, there were about 40 countries that discouraged or banned research on germline editing, including 15 nations in Western Europe, because of ethical and safety concerns.

Balancing Benefits and Risks

An important ethical issue is the notion of having greater risk than benefit. Considering that human beings are the target, putting people’s lives and the future generation at risk is not worth it. The CRISPR technique has the risk of producing of target mutation which is bound to cause harm on the victim. Research shows that human cells have a high frequency of off target effects compared to mice and zebra fish (Rodriguez, 2016). Moreover CRISPR is capable of causing mutation which leads to mutation or death of cells. Opposition argument to risk argues that efforts have been done to rule out off target mutations in human being. However, I believe that further improvement to enhance safe delivery of CRISPR on tissues that are difficult to transfect. Moreover, the technology could transform the societal values negatively.

Ethical implications: Use of Embryo for Genome-Editing

Most religious and moral believes go against the act of subjecting an embryo to research. Moreover, it is wrong to use funds to create and destroy embryo considering they represent the value of life (National Human Genome Research Institute, 2018). Argument for use of embryo in gene editing claim that the project is important since it will provide answers to scientific questions on human biology. Moreover, the embryos used will be from IVF leftovers or those created for the sole purpose of research. However, the notion that scientists have the ability to create and destroy an embryo is a form of disrespect to the value of human life and goes against human rights.

Regulation for Consumers

The use of CRISPR technique for gene editing makes it hard to identify human beings outside the lab that have gone through the modification. Therefore, it is uncertain how scientists will conduct a follow up to measure long term effects (Cribbs and Perera 2017). In the light of regulation for consumers, there are chances that some stakeholders with economic interest. In case your organization patent genetic sequences, then the action will be of ethical concern. Currently there has been debate among biotechnological companies over patenting CRISPR. While making profit out of the project seems like a fair deal, the goal of the project has been to improve people’s lives not making a fortune out of it. Moreover, only the wealthy will access the service raising concerns of justice and equity. A possible long term effect is the rise of classes of individuals who have accessed the service and those who cannot afford which will increase the already existing disparities in health care access.

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