How Far Should Scientists Go to Modify Humans through Genetic Engineering?

Since the first days of its emergence, genetic engineering has become a source of great hope in health care, agriculture, and industry. However, it also caused deep concern, not least because of the complexity of the genome editing process. Genetic engineering technologies may allow editing the DNA of a human embryo to exclude dangerous diseases before birth. In addition, with the help of genetic engineering it is possible to create methods for the treatment of genetic diseases using gene therapy. Thus, since the human genome has been deciphered, vast horizons of the bright future of the human body development have spread out before the scientists in various fields: the treatment of diseases at the gene level, the evolutionary filter, and the programming of genes.

The concept of gene therapy has existed for the past twenty to thirty years. It lies in the fact that the most radical way of dealing with diseases is to destroy the genetic cause of the disease, and not its consequences (Cox et al, 2015). Gene therapy is an intervention in the work of the cellular “plant” for the production of proteins. It allows both activating the work of the desired genes and “turning off” the harmful ones. In the first case, the gene is delivered into the cell, from which the protein necessary for the therapy of the disease begins to be read. In the second case, regulatory RNA is introduced into the cell, which blocks the expression of the “harmful” gene.

As soon as researchers learned to understand the genetic code, the inevitable next step was to try to change this code — to make an engineering intervention in genetics. In the production of recombinant DNA, specialized enzymes are used, allowing “cutting off” a gene taken from one organism and implanting it into another. If such a transfer is successful, the body will receive the information contained in the new gene (Cox et al, 2015).

The essence of genetic engineering methods is reduced to the introduction of a gene of another living organism into the microorganism (often prokaryotic), as a result of which the cell of the microorganism begins to synthesize proteins not inherent to it. To illustrate, insulin, interferon, growth hormones were obtained in a similar way. In such a way, one of the promising areas of genetic engineering is the cultivation of the genes of sick and healthy people in the cells of other living organisms in order to study the molecular basis of human hereditary diseases.

Kim et al stated that only a few years have passed since biologists learned how to edit the genomes using a new tool – the CRISPR / Cas9 molecular system (Kim et al, 2017). The technology turned out to be so much better than the previous ones that already now the question arose about the modification of human embryos and the treatment of genetic diseases. According to statistical data, there were conducted many clinical trials on gene therapy of various diseases. For a number of diseases, gene therapy has been quite successful. However, it is always necessary to take into account the importance of the moral and ethical component of any treatment approach, including genetic engineering, which will provide new opportunities in the fight against genetic diseases.

Moreover, exploring recent researches in the area of gene engineering, it can be said that scientists have received a powerful tool for editing a genetic code in their hands, which differs from previous methods in the same way as a surgical scalpel differs from a handsaw. This “tool” is not perfect, but the improvement of CRISPR-Cas9 is at an incredible pace (Liang et al, 2017). In just several years that have passed since its discovery, scientists have found a vast field for the application of CRISPR, but the greatest achievements are, of course, ahead.

Analyzing the situation, this means that modern scientists can use the CRISPR-Cas9 mechanism for the purpose to solve existing problems in the genome. Such an approach can be similar to correcting typos in the written text. For instance, in the case of cancer, the scientists would like to destroy all those genes that allow tumor cells to multiply (Liang et al, 2017). Moreover, the science is also interested in implanting genes into those cells that have never received their natural genetic transmission (Kim et al, 2017).

Exploring the opposite arguments, it can be noted that the most serious disputes related to genetic engineering are caused by the power that humanity receives over the processes of heredity – the ability to change the genetic structure of its own species. The first step in the use of this power will be gene therapy – the introduction of genes with the “correct” information into cells containing defective genes, or the addition of new genes, in the code of which there are substances to combat the disease. It is understandable that the development of genetic engineering led to the formulation of ethical questions, the combination of which was bioethics – a field of knowledge related to the ethical problems of using certain biological and medical procedures, technologies and methods of treatment. As an example, the problems of organ transplantation, genetic engineering, or the maintenance of life of hopelessly ill people can be mentioned.

In this case, an example of a bioethical problem is the identification of the person to whom it is necessary to provide available organs for transplantation. Another example of a controversial technology, as well as ethical and moral problems, is the experiments on the transplantation of human embryonic tissues, in particular, the brain of the human embryo to a patient with a violation of the central nervous system, which allows in some cases to alleviate the symptoms of the disease.

To conclude, the use of the CRISPR / Cas9 genome editing technology opens up new possibilities in gene therapy. CRISPR / Cas9 system allows researchers to very accurately and safely change the DNA of cells. In a case of combining the technology of CRISPR / Cas9 with additional aspects of gene engineering, then this, apparently, will allow scientists to systemically influence the body and to change the genome of a very large number of cells in an absolutely safe way. In the worst case, treating a person with the CRISPR / Cas9 genome editing method can damage important genes, causing disastrous harm to health. Thus, it is very important to use this technology of gene therapy very carefully, as well as study possible negative effects accurately.

Works Cited

Cox, D., et al. “Therapeutic genome editing: prospects and challenges.” Nature Medicine, vol. 21, 2015.

Kim, E. et al. “CRISPR-Cas9: a promising tool for gene editing on induced pluripotent stem cells.” Korean J Intern Med., vol. 32, no. 1, 2017.

Liang, P., et al. “Developmental history and application of CRISPR in human disease.” The Journal of Gene Medicine, vol. 19, no. 6-7, 2017.

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

[Accessed: November 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016.

[Accessed: November 27, 2021] (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
Available at:

[Accessed: November 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: November 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: November 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: November 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: November 27, 2021]
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