“Designer babies.” The term has developed a stigma around the world as a result of negative sentiments toward the alteration of a fetus’ genetic makeup in order to create more favorable characteristics. The majority of genetic screening and alteration today has to do with the elimination and detection of serious diseases, not cosmetic characteristics. As technology improves, however, many people worry about how genetic screening and alteration will negatively affect the future of the human race. Discrimination, bias, and partiality are all factors that must be considered when dealing with altering an individual’s unique personal characteristics.
On September 18th, a research team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology released a report detailing advancements in the genome-editing CRISPR system. The CRISPR system releases an enzyme that cuts and removes certain sections of DNA that are damaged or mutated and replaces them with a healthy DNA sequence. However, these scientists discovered a new enzyme, Cof1, which may now serve as an alternate to the previously used enzyme Cas9. Using this new enzyme, research teams have the ability to narrow their focus to very specific sections of the DNA double helix. Additionally, the CRISPR system cuts DNA in a different way, improving the efficiency and quality of the repair site.