Make Your Son, Make Your Daughter Too-Welcome to Genetic Engineering in the New Millenium

In the year 6565

You won’t need no husband, won’t need no wife

You’ll pick your son, pick your daughter too

From the bottom of a long glass tube


From In the year 2525 by Zager and Evans




Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR)

Like other DNA editing techniques, the CRISPR/Cas9 system takes advantage of a cell’s DNA repair machinery to delete (knock-out) or add in (knock-in) sequences of DNA. However, CRISPR/Cas9 offers several advantages: it is easier to target a specific gene of interest since designing the required CRISPR component is simple and efficient, whereas generating ZFNs and TALENs is more time consuming; it is often more proficient in generating the desired recombination results; and it is exponentially more cost effective, so almost any laboratory in the world can use it. CRISPR/Cas9 has been shown to work in several model organisms, and consequently researchers are keen to apply this technology for modifying genetic mutations in humans with uncured diseases as well as in human embryos, which arouses many scientific and ethical considerations.

Princeton University shocked the world in 1999 when they reported genetically engineering mice with better memories. They achieved the effect by popping an extra copy of the NR2B gene into their genomes. This gene encodes the NMDA receptor, which is used in memory formation and can affect a trait that neuroscientists call “long-term potentiation.” The press dubbed the super smart mouse pups “Doogie mice,” after the popular television show Doogie Hauser MD (then in syndication). At the time, Tsien said, if it worked in humans, everyone would want to use it, since “everyone wants to be smart.”

In Future Schism one of the dystopian provinces forces genetic modification on its citizens to best suit the needs of the government. If we’re not careful, could we wake-up one day to find our governments telling us what sex our child must be, and what hair, eye, and skin color, and what I.Q.  he or she must have.

Weighing the benefits of treating disease with the horrific consequences of playing God is something we must always be careful to balance out.

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