Editorial: Genetic engineering is our future

Angie Bravo, Editorial Writer

On April 6, 2016, scientists made a revolutionary breakthrough in genetic engineering; the first baby to have three parents was born. The online Oxford Dictionary formally recognizes genetic engineering as the deliberate modification of the characteristics of an organism by manipulating its genetic material.

Genetic engineering is a rather controversial topic which ought to be accepted within society because this form of DNA modification will give families with a genetic disease a chance to have a child born without the disease in their genes.

The baby to have been born to three parents’ mother carries a rare genetic disorder named Leigh syndrome. It was with genetic engineering, however, that less than one percent of the child’s mitochondria carries the mutation. It was genetic engineering that gave the couple a chance to have a child; Had it not been for a scientific intervention, the couple would have possibly never had a surviving biological baby.

As of now, there are two types of genetic engineering possible on humans. The first is pronuclear transfer; this method involves destroying two embryos and so because the couple with the three parented child were Muslim, they decided to go with the second procedure; spindle nuclear transfer in which a patient’s nucleus is inserted to a donor egg without its nucleus. After the egg is reconstructed and fertilized, a child is born.

Genetic engineering within humans is the future.

Genetic engineering’s focus point is on faulty mitochondria. Defective mitochondria has been linked to medical problems such as deafness, epilepsy and failing eyesight. However, we have the possibility of decreasing the amount of children that inherit life threatening/impairing genetic diseases.

In addition to providing healthier lives for children, genetic engineering could mean living longer lives. With healthier offspring being born, humankind has the potential to live longer lives. To those trying to extend their lifespan as long as possible, genetic engineering could be the answer people are looking for. However, in order to truly see how genetic engineering affects lifespan, more births would have to be conceived through genetic engineering.

Genetic engineering is relatively new for human beings; however, it might not be long before we meet more children with three parents. Besides being a means to terminating the carrying of faulty mitochondria, genetic engineering could perhaps further the technology necessary in the pursuit of longer life spans. Perhaps one day, we will not have to be concerned for terminal illnesses, but for that day to come society must accept genetic engineering as a practical form of medicine.