Designer baby possible? 23andMe tests genetic code for genealogy and disease
Designing your own child, is it possible? Genetics today can make miracles! Reports confirm that a patent by a genetics company may allow parents to analyze the genetic code and may permit the would-be parents to decide the genetic traits that they want in their future babies.
Calculated genetic code
Well, we had heard about mathematics calculations now it’s time for the offspring to have the traits that have been thought over and calculated by their parents. The credit for this goes to a genetic company by the name of 23AndMe.
The test prepared by the company can hand over approximately 240 physical and disease traits. Just imagine that you are desperately looking for your long lost sibling, this will make the search possible. The test is capable of performing feats like telling you whether you are a potential case of breast cancer. The genetic company plans to study the DNA, the genetic code for genealogy and disease.
The genetic company, 23andMe
Talking about his company and the purpose they had come up with the brain child, the 23andMe co-founder Anne Wojcicki stated “We started the company really with the idea that we wanted to do something revolutionary, where consumers could come, learn tons of information about themselves and really start to revolutionize health care.”
The Family Traits Inheritor Calculator by the 23andMe is capable of studying the saliva sample sent by a prospective parent with the help of a patent. The US based company assures that the sample can be studied to tell the different kinds of genetic diseases and genetic traits that can be passed on to the unborn babies. The company is also trying to introduce the patent into the fertility clinics. So is it safe to assume that we desire “designer babies”? This is exactly what the critics feel.
The patent will help allow the soon-to-be parents to peer closely at the traits of their babies. But this patent has shoved the company into shrouds of controversy as they fear that besides helping the babies stay free of genetic diseases the parents may also shift their focus to different aspects of the personality like the physical characteristics and the looks of the child.
Isn’t there a fear of using superior sperms and ova to get genetically superior children in this case? Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society, fears so and said “It would be highly irresponsible for 23andMe or anyone else to offer a product or service based on this patent.We believe the patent office made a serious mistake in allowing a patent that includes drop-down menus for which to choose a future child’s traits.”
Its ethically wrong to pick the ideal genes for the future children felt the authors of a commentary included in Genetics and Medicine . They exclaimed that “The use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis to avoid implantation of embryos bearing serious genetic abnormalities is by now becoming commonplace, but a computerized process for selecting gamete donors to achieve a baby with a ‘phenotype of interest’ that the prospective parent ‘desires in his/her hypothetical offspring,’ as 23andMe puts it, seems to have much broader implications, for this process also entails the selection of traits that are not disease related.”
At this 23andMe took a stand and said that it had no intention of using the patent for designer children and explained “The patent process takes years, and businesses often file patents without knowing exactly how they might be used (or if they will be used at all) so that they can protect an innovation.”
It’s just an endeavor to get the “right characteristics” into the baby, they said!