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Print Posted on 05/10/2018 in Fertility Treatment Options

Designer Babies: The Unique Embryo Code Can be Edited in the Laboratory

Designer Babies: The Unique Embryo Code Can be Edited in the Laboratory

Surely you have already envisioned in your mind the first ‘DATE’ with your small bundle of joy as the moment of cordial connection. But have you ever envisioned how your future baby may look like? Have you ever mentally ‘glanced’ at your future baby’s gorgeous eyes? Have you ever thought that those intriguing gorgeously–shaped dark–golden curls fall around your future baby–girl’s back and shoulders? The gorgeous baby–girl with the cascade of dark–golden curls down to her waist, so intriguingly curled, so glittering, so gorgeous, so tempting… And you are captured by the divine beauty of her curls… Your girl is basically so attractive, that even you wonder if she is for real. She is an impeccably charming.

What is about your future baby’s intelligence? You do want your baby to have the exquisite cognitive and verbal skills, unique imagination, wonderful memory and so on, don’t you? Intelligence is the way to success, you know that.

The most important thing – ideal health. The health is of vital importance, am I right? No one wants even to glance at the sufferings of the little one. Especially if the little one suffers from serious disease because it hurts too much. And if you may choose the option to have that tiny embryo–girl… or embryo–boy with the strong immune system, with the minimum health–problems, surely you will choose her or him prior to the others, don’t you?

Wondering what I am talking about? I’m talking about the UNIQUE or even BOUTIQUE babies who are created in the laboratory by the specialists according to your uniquely chosen ‘design’.

(1) Who are the DESIGNER BABIES?

Currently, the reproductive medicine faces the exciting challenge of implementing the new gene–editing technologies in the IVF treatment option. These technologies allow the doctors to EDIT the embryonal genetic code. Coding and decoding genetic information are two advanced options which are used to create the exclusive, healthy, perfect quality embryos. These uniquely designed embryos are called the ‘DESIGNER BABIES’.

In other words, the designer babies are the babies that are exclusively created through a genetic screening process or genetic recoding process. Genetic modification is a process, in which a certain technology [or a set of technologies] is used to modify the genetic code [or genetic makeup] of the cells. It also involves transferring the genes to create the opportunities for the genetic makeup. And in some situations, the advanced gene therapy techniques are used to create the desired type of characteristics in the baby.

This is possible ONLY through In Vitro Fertilization treatment option. As the embryos are created for you in the laboratory. 

(2) What is In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)? 

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a multistage INVASIVE fertility treatment that is designed for those cases when non–invasive treatments fail. It involves four main stages: (1) the woman takes oral and injectable medications to stimulate the ovaries to produce follicles which are the fluid filled cysts in the ovaries that contain the oocytes; (2) the removal of oocytes from the woman’s ovaries by an ultrasound guided procedure performed under anesthesia (invasive surgery); (3) the placement of the oocytes and sperm together in the laboratory to allow fertilization to occur or ICSI method is used for fertilization, and; (4) the transfer of embryos (fertilized oocytes) into the woman’s uterus.

(3) Is it real to have the DESIGNER BABY?

You may wonder whether it is real to have the DESIGNER BABY, or not. You may nervously envision in the mind the ideal embryo–baby. Or considering that it is just the gossips about boutique–embryo–babies. The babies that are absolutely perfect both morphologically and esthetically. And you will be amused to hear ‘YES’. Yes, it is possible to have the designer baby [if you undergo the IVF treatment cycle] as every embryo has its unique embryo code. And that unique embryo code can be edited in the lab through several advanced techniques.

Designer babies are created from an embryo selected by preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). The primary aim of creating designer babies is to avoid the heritable diseases coded by mutations in DNA. Currently, using the genome–editing techniques, the embryologists can design the babies through editing the genetic imperfections.

(4) In which situations the doctor may strongly recommend you the gene–editing technologies? 

Embryos are prone to chromosomal abnormalities. It may even happen that almost all your embryos would be mosaic. Or their DNA would be fragmented. Furthermore, gene–editing technologies offer an alternative for women to carry a fetus unaffected by hereditary diseases.

In such adverse situations, gene–editing technologies are strongly recommended. And what if you just want that tiny embryo, which is uniquely designed for you to be perfect? What if it is just your wish to have the ideal baby? Are there any restrictions or limitations for editing the embryo’s genetic code?

(5) Is it possible to apply for the DESIGNER BABY if you don’t have the strong medical recommendations?

At present, the Reproductive Specialists can ‘DESIGN’ the baby for you if you will apply and sign the papers. Nowadays the boutique embryo–baby (or the boutique embryo–babies) are pre–designed via transparent discussion with the doctors [establishing INCLUSIVE and EXCLUSIVE CRITERIA. And after that created from an embryo (or embryos) selected by preimplantation genetic diagnosis. And preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) itself includes invasive and non–invasive options.

(6) How can the Reproductive Specialists ‘DESIGN’ the baby for you?

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), following in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment cycles, preimplantation embryo biopsy, and genetic analysis of a single cell or small numbers of cells are the basic gene–editing technologies that allow to ‘show’ the embryo’s genetic code and to edit it. All these methods the reproductive specialists can perform in the lab to design the embryo–baby for you. But these methods are not the only ones. Nowadays, the reproductive specialists also use an effective CRISPR technique for modifying DNA structures.

(7) What are the PGD and PGS?

Preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) are currently applied to evaluate the presence of aneuploidies in embryos germline editing. Basically, these two techniques are biopsies. The biopsy is the invasive method for genome editing.

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) and Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) for monogenic diseases and/or numerical/structural chromosomal abnormalities are the tools for embryo testing aimed at identifying non–affected and/or euploid embryos in a cohort produced during an IVF treatment cycle.

The main goal of PGD and PGS, which are the biopsy of one or more cells from a preimplantation embryo followed by the ploidy analysis of these cells, is to define whether an embryo is affected by a monogenic disease and/or chromosomal impairments, thus preventing the implantation of a symptomatic fetus and/or limiting the risks underlying the transfer of chromosomally abnormal embryos. And as these techniques are biopsies, they should be performed with the utter accuracy because they can harm the embryo. In other words, during PGD or PGS the reproductive specialists must not to significantly harm the embryo during the biopsy and preserve its viability and reproductive potential.

(8) What is the CRISPR technique for modifying DNA structures?

More advanced and UNIQUE gene–editing technology is called ‘CRISPR’ [Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats]. It allows researchers to alter DNA sequences and modify gene function. CRISPR is the set of molecular scissors (an enzyme that cuts DNA), that cut out the defective genes. Just tag the CRISPR molecule with a bit of RNA (a slim sliver of genetic material that sticks to DNA) to guide it, and it can cut out and ‘EDIT’ or ‘rewrite’ any snippet of DNA its wielders would like to target.

To edit the DNA sequence by using CRISPR technology, the specialists should identify those affected genes in the DNA sequences, that should be cut out. This technology works as a ‘tiny pair of molecular scissors’ that cut out the unnecessary DNA strand. Once the affected DNA is cut, the cell will repair the cut by joining the DNA strands’ ends (with some DNA at the cut side being lost so that a deletion is made), or by using any available DNA strands to complete the gap.

But the goal is to edit the DNA structure or to complete the DNA structure with the necessary genes. Therefore, the reproductive specialists can inject between the DNA sequences (in the place of the cut) the new gene they want to insert. If a new gene is injected at the same time as sending in the artificial guide, the cell will often use this new DNA sequence to repair the cut.

In other words, CRISPR allows the doctors to edit the DNA sequences (to find, cut and then paste the new gene). Its many potential applications include identifying, validating and correcting the genetic defects, cutting the defected place in the DNA strands, treating and preventing the spread of diseases.

Creation of the designer babies is the hotly debated theme. IVF combined with CRISPR interventions could become a boutique option for creating the elite embryo–babies. These babies won’t suffer from genetic and other diseases. They will have the strong immune system. They will have an incapable attractive appearance, and even their intelligence will be beyond the imagination. But what will be with those babies who are naturally conceived? Will they find their place in such a PERFECT WORLD? Or will they be completely EXCLUDED from the ELITE SOCIETY of the DESIGNER BABIES? Or will these gene–editing technologies be implemented only to prevent the untreatable diseases and won’t be represented in every clinic’s price–list? What will be there in the future?

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