The Scientist recently shared a story about the immense complexity of understanding how combinations of genes affect a person and inherited diseases. This is information you won’t hear anything about from the advocates of genetic engineering of embryonic human beings.
Technology like CRISPR now enables researchers to quickly and cost-efficiently identify ways that various genes impact a person’s development, including the probability of an inherited disease, abnormality, or disability. Scientists are working on newer approaches that will examine “hundreds of gene variants in thousands of cells,” as quoted in the article. (We know, of course, that genetics researchers resort to frequent exaggeration in their competition for research funding and publication opportunities.)
In this story, it took a monumental effort to find out that three siblings had undeveloped left ventricles in their hearts and consequent difficulties in pumping blood effectively, and that this was related to genetic mutations inherited from their parents. What caused the disorder wasn’t just a genetic mutation in the father (there was one), nor a mutation in the mother (there was a different one), nor even the simultaneous effects of the two mutations; it was the mother’s mutation exacerbating the abnormal effects of the father’s mutation.
How did the doctors find out? Through detective work based on: 1) the new baby’s acute heart condition, 2) parents’ histories, 3) full examination of the RNA of the baby and parents, 4) heart exams for the parents and three children, 5) recreating the condition with CRISPR in mice, 6) and recreating beating heart cells from stem cells in the lab.
That’s quite a bit to understand what is going on in one person based on their genetics. I wonder what it cost? The situation is a warning to us all.
The warning is this: it is pretty darned impossible to know what will happen when we tamper with the genetic makeup of un unborn child. We can’t know fully – regardless of the sophistication of technology – how any gene, combination of genes, combination of mutations of genes, and variations on gene expression will influence an individual and their descendants.
We simply can’t. There will always be possibilities that haven’t been discovered yet.
Remember that genetic engineering research involves killing thousands of embryonic human beings. The therapy will generally involve IVF, through which more human embryos are killed. Arguments for discounting the divinely bestowed dignity of human embryos, based on such criteria as rationality, consciousness, or presence of a rational soul, fly in the face of Christian understanding beginning in the first century and exemplified in Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.
Learn more about genetic engineering of human embryos at http://www.humanpreservation.org.
Please share this and other posts. We need to educate our neighbors before genetic engineering of embryonic human beings gets out of control.