A team of researchers from the U.S. and South Korea had a major breakthrough when they succeeded in splicing and replacing a faulty gene with a healthy one. This faulty gene causes poor heart development and it was isolated and spliced out and replaced with a healthy gene in the genetic chain of a fetus. Since the fetus now has a healthy gene instead of the faulty one he will develop a healthy heart and not suffer from this genetic heart disease.
This faulty gene is one of the most common there is affecting 1 out of every 500 people. The faulty gene causes a disorder that can cause the heart to suddenly stop and it comes from one gene that is faulty. Any carrier of this gene has a 50% chance of passing it on to his children.
The researchers told BBC in an interview that this gene splicing process can prevent up to 10,000 genetically carried diseases when we can prevent the parents from passing the faulty gene to their children by splicing them out and replacing them with healthy ones. One of the researchers added that “Every future generation will now be carrying the repaired gene which is no longer in the gene pool of this child’s family. Using this technique we can ease the burden of genetically transmitted diseases in all of humanity.”
This successful gene replacement brings up moral questions. “The biggest question that will be most discussed is if we should at all deal with fetal gene sequences,” says researcher, Professor Darren Griffin. “The answer isn’t clear and the other moral question is why should we not intervene when we have the technology to prevent dangerous, life threatening diseases?” Other scientists already denounced the research as ‘irresponsible’ and ‘a race to the first genetically engineered baby’.