Tagged With human genetic engineering

On Thursday, a US Food and Drug Administration review panel gave their stamp of approval to an experimental gene therapy for a rare inherited form of blindness. If ultimately approved by the agency, the technique would be the first gene therapy for an inherited disease approved in the United States -- and a landmark in the field of biomedicine.

This week, news of a major scientific breakthrough brought a debate over genetically engineering humans front and centre. For the first time ever, scientists genetically engineered a human embryo on American soil in order to remove a disease-causing mutation. It was the fourth time ever that such a feat has been published on, and with the most success to date. It may still be a long way off, but it seems likely that one day we will indeed have to grapple with the sticky, complicated philosophical mess of whether, and in which cases, genetically engineering a human being is morally permissible.

Predicting the future is near impossible -- but that doesn‘t stop us all from having a red hot go. Human beings have been predicting the future since the beginning of history and the results range from the hilarious to the downright uncanny.

One thing all future predictions have in common: they‘re rooted in our current understanding of how the world works. It‘s difficult to escape that mindset. We have no idea how technology will evolve, so our ideas are connected to the technology of today.

China has long been ahead of the US when it comes to human genetic engineering -- there, the idea seems far less morally fraught. But for the first time, scientists in the United States have now genetically modified a human embryo, according to a new report in the MIT Technology Review. At Oregon Health and Science University, the publication reports, scientists are using the gene-editing technique CRISPR to alter the DNA of a "large number of one-cell embryos."