When we hear this term, we wonder what would a designer baby be Whether it’s a baby with designer clothes or a fashionable one. With the advancements in biotechnology that now we can actually create a baby with desired characteristics like eye color, height, diseases, intelligence, and whatnot.
A designer baby is a gene-modified human embryo with appropriate qualities that have been shaped as per the instructions given by the parents. The process by which a designer baby is produced is known as Gene Editing which is defined as the use of molecular scissors to create cuts at certain locations of the genome and restoration of these cuts through non-homologous end joining or homologous recombination resulting in the desired edits.
A new technique, CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) is being used for genome editing which has allowed scientists to alter or edit the genome cheaply and very rapidly. In the most common form for CRISPR, an enzyme called Cas-9 is used to delete or cut the selected sections of DNA or insert new sections in the existing DNA.
The first designer baby was created in 2000 in the U.S. which was named Adam Nash and was born on 29th Aug. 2000. Screening techniques were used to test the parent’s embryos and chose the embryo that would be an exact match to their daughter who was suffering from a genetic disorder-Fanconi Anemia which causes Bone Marrow deficiency.
The selected embryo was a perfect tissue match and free from the disease. When Adam was born, the stem cells from his umbilical cord were selected and donated to his sister which were used to replace her Bone Marrow. Embryo screening consists of a PGD (Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis).
Through IVF (in vitro Fertilization), embryos are made and allowed to grow up to 8 cell stages after which, the cell is removed for examination of DNA for defects or anomaly and only healthy and normal embryos are implanted in the womb.
PGD is the analysis of a wide range of human embryos to identify genes associated with particular diseases and characteristics and selecting embryos that have the desired genetic makeup.
Pros & Cons of Designer Baby:
• Reduces the risk of genetic diseases
• Reduces the risk of inherited medical conditions
• Better chance the child will succeed in life
• Better understanding of genetics
• Increased life span
• Can give genes to a child that parents are devoid of
• Termination of embryos could create a gap in society
• Possibility of damage to the gene pool
• Many genes often have more than one use
• Loss of individuality
In simpler terms, Biotechnology can be used to choose what type of baby you want. The latest research is making designer babies a reality now, using technology developed originally for use in animals.