Skip to 0 minutes and 0 secondsGene editing in the UK can only be carried out for research purposes. There would have to be a change in the law before it could be used in treatment. I think if, it became possible to eliminate or treat very serious conditions through gene editing, there would be good reasons to enable that to happen. That children who were born with conditions which are very grave and where the child is very gravely disabled or dies very early in childhood, parents who have those conditions in their family I think quite understandably might want to use a technique like gene editing in order to avoid having a child that is going to have a short and painful life.

Skip to 0 minutes and 43 secondsSo I think it would be a real pity if we were so worried about designer babies and all of those sorts of alarmist fears that we actually prevented a technique that could improve massively the lives of people whose families have been blighted by fatal genetic diseases.

Need for new legislation

In this brief segment, Emily Jackson highlights the fact that genome editing has the potential to revolutionise treatment of disease and that we should try to avoid the scaremongering of those who worry about the technology without understanding how it works and what it does.

For discussion: In the comments below, please consider the notion of ‘designer babies’. Given everything we have learnt over the last six weeks, what do you think about this concept and the way it is often invoked?

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This video is from the free online course:

Making Babies in the 21st Century

UCL (University College London)