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Scientists Replace Gene that Causes Heart Problem with Healthy One

Scientists Replace Gene that Causes Heart Problem with Healthy One Read Transcript

LORIE JOHNSON: Many of us know someone

who inherited a gene that caused them to get a terrible disease,

like Alzheimer's or cancer.

Now, scientists say they've developed the technique

to get rid of those problem genes and therefore

the diseases they cause.

It's called gene editing.

As the name suggests, scientists remove the bad gene

and replace it with a healthy one.

They did this in an Oregon lab by replacing

a gene in a human embryo that caused a potentially

deadly heart condition.

The embryo was later destroyed.

Scientists say gene editing will allow

them to prevent a whole host of other inherited /

but some don't like the way the process is being tested.

DAVID CHRISTENSEN: Concern here is that what they did

is effectively kill the number of embryos

in order to get the genetic change that they want.

And we believe that that could have been done later

in the process to actually treat even an unborn child or a child

with that disease.

LORIE JOHNSON: Another worry is that this

could lead to the creation of so-called designer babies,

where scientists alter an embryo's genetics

not to save a life or prevent a disease,

but to make the person better looking, better

in sports and school.

DAVID CHRISTENSEN: With this technology,

we're talking about altering life and altering the germ line

heredity of people.

And that creates a lot of concern for us

and a lot of other people.

LORIE JOHNSON: Many in the scientific community share

that concern.

Scientists, who gathered from around the world in Washington,

DC last year, said gene editing should only

be used to save lives and alleviate suffering.

FRANCOISE BAYLIS: People start talking

about eye color, hair color.

Sometimes people start talking about things

like memory enhancement or muscle mass and things

like that.

And I think we really need to be careful about that,

because, quite frankly, some of that

involves very, very complicated science, in terms

of the number of genes that you'd have to manipulate,

et cetera.

And, at least for now, that's not the game.

CHAD COWAN: It's difficult to prevent those experiments

from happening.

But what you can do, as a community,

is set clear guidelines about what

would be an acceptable experiment

and what would be an unacceptable experiment,

and to not let those people that perform unacceptable

biological experiments get away without some form

of regulation or punishment.

LORIE JOHNSON: So while gene editing is still

in its infancy, now may be the ideal time

to discuss all of the possible consequences

of this new technology, as well as ways to control it.

Lorie Johnson, CBN News.

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