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Computer simulation suggests we aren’t even close to designing better babies

| | December 9, 2019
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Image: OHSU
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

It’s difficult to talk about genetic selection without the umbrella of morality or ethics. Yet like all scientific advancements, it pays to ask where we are on the road down a troubling scientific journey—one we might not like the destination of. This month, a team led by Dr. Shai Carmi at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem asked just that. Given our current understanding of genetics, are we able to select for human embryos that turn into taller, smarter adults?

Using computer simulations, the team found that it is possible to increase the height and IQ of offspring by interrogating their DNA—a boost of roughly an inch in height and 2.5 points for IQ. These small increases come with significant caveats, in that the predictions often fail. In large nuclear families, for example, the majority of children whose DNA scored high for height are in reality not the tallest. The impact is so modest that scientists even question if it’s worth going through the trouble.

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Regardless of which side of the debate you’re on, one thing is clear: we still have some time before we’re technologically capable of genetic selection (or medical eugenics), perhaps enough for more stringent regulations to be put into place.

Read full, original post: Designer Babies? Simulation Shows They Won’t Happen Anytime Soon

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