Germline Gene Editing

Germline Gene Editing

The scientific community is developing a new form of gene editing called germline gene therapy. If you have never heard about it, now is the time to pay attention. 

Gene editing is the concept that we can intervene to change the genes of living beings. A very brief summary tells us that living beings have genes with different configurations.

We have labelled the components of our genes with letters. Depending on the combination of letters, the gene encodes for an end purpose. Sometimes, the combinations of letters replicates with errorts, resulting in a malfunctioning genetic code.

Hence, editing. The idea being that we can go in and change the letters or codes of the genes such that when they replicate, the errors are remove.

So what is germline gene editing?

Generally speaking, living beings undergo gene editing. You and I, for example. So, imagine for a minute someone inherited a set of faulty genes from their parents. An expert, could in theory, go in and change the genes and remove the error. 

But what if we already know that one or both parents have faulty genes and do not wish to have children inherit these genes? That is where germline gene editing comes in. 

The idea behind germline gene editing is to go in and change the genes prior to birth to prevent inherting a faulty set of genes. Some common genetic disorders include Thalassemia, Downs Syndrome and Cyctic Fibrosis. 

So, if we could identify the specific gene that was causing the onset of these conditions and change the genetic blueprint, the child may not inherit the ailment. 

Germline therapy is still not widely practices. In fact, most countries restrict the practice, specially on human beings. The concern surrounds the unknown outcome of editing a gene prior to birth on the child. 

Yet, like with most other scientific developments, it is probably a matter of time before the research catches up, makes it safe allowing us to engineer children that are free from genetically inherited maladies. 

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