Human Genome Editing: Scientists Vs Rogues

Source: The post is based on an article “Human Genome Editing: Scientists Vs Rogues” published in The Times of India on 1st April 2023.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Science and Technology

Relevance: concerns over genome editing technology

News: The Third International Summit on Human Genome Editing was held in London last month.

What are the excerpts of the summit?

Scientists found that changing genes in some of the cells of an existing person does not impact their heritable cells. Gene editing method like CRISPR is also being used by scientists to cure sickle cell disease.

However, extremely high costs and infrastructure needs of gene therapy treatments are not manageable for a vast majority of either patients or healthcare systems.

CRISPR has also been used in China to alter the embryos (created through IVF) of twin girls to try to make them resistant to HIV in 2018.

However, concerns remain over funding and monitoring of gene therapy, especially in a country like China.

There was news of efforts going in China to get access to cutting-edge western genomic and biotech ecosystems through academic espionage and early-stage investment.

There were also concerns over carrying gene therapies in China in the absence of scientific public documentation as it may have a catastrophic impact on humanity, as was seen in the case Covid-19.

Must Read: Gene Therapy: Approaches, Benefits and Concerns – Explained

What lies ahead for India in genome editing technology?

Developing Gene therapy technologies in India is not only about cost ownership and access but also the processes of knowledge production and knowledge produced.

Therefore, genome editing research reaching its full therapeutic potential for Indians will need science in India to step up.

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