Experts believe that the human race is only a few years away from gene-edited babies becoming commonplace in medicine.
Advances in medicine have allowed for some incredible things over the past couple of hundred years. Most notably, the significant increase in life expectancy. Nature continues to offer up illnesses and diseases and humans respond by using science to manage them, battle them, and in some cases, eradicate them completely. However, there are some conditions that we still can't get our heads around.
Cancer, dementia, HIV, just to name a few. Diseases that we have progressed in, but all of them and others continue to plague us, and none of them have a cure. That brings us to the door of one of the most controversial medical ideas humans have had to date. Genetic editing. Literally editing someone's genes in order to prevent them from developing a deadly or debilitating disease.
The practice was performed on humans in China for the first time recently and has been widely criticized. The gene-edited babies underwent the controversial procedure in an attempt to make them resistant to HIV. The research has since been put to a stop. However, new research by Dr. Kevin Smith suggests the risks of gene editing are now a lot lower than they were before, reports Sky News.
So low, in fact, that Dr. Smith believes the practice will be used a lot more in the coming years. That in the not-so-distant future scientists and doctors will be able to morally justify creating genetically modified people. "If several common disorders could be avoided or delayed by genetically modifying humans, the average disease-free lifespan could be substantially extended," Dr. Smith reported in his research.
That's not to say that every baby born going forward will have its DNA messed with. It would simply be an opportunity to pre-empt anything from happening to a baby that might be genetically predisposed to a certain disease that has no cure. Altering their genes might prevent them from following in their family's footsteps. For now, though, that practice is still rooted in controversy, but Dr. Smith's research could help change that.