Society needs to be prepared for the prospect of ‘designer babies’ in the wake of recent developments in genetics, leading scientists have said.
Dr Tony Perry told the BBC that genetically modifying people is “not completelyfanciful”, after announcing a new technique performed on mice, which precisely edits DNA at the moment of conception.
The technology could be used to add new pieces of genetic code, leading to children being ‘designed’ without certain diseases.
Dr Perry commented that this “is not HG Wells”, and said the UK’s fertility regulator “will need to be prepared because they’re going to have to deal with this issue”.
And Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, who supports controversial techniques to create three and four-parent babies, said a debate needs to be started on the potential uses of “germ-line therapies”.
This is the term used when genetic modifications are passed on to a child and all subsequent generations.
Parliament is expected to vote on legalising techniques to create three and four-parent babies in the coming weeks.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Mitochondrial Donation) Regulations 2015 could come into force in October if Parliament approves them.
If legalised, the UK would become the only country in the world to permit the two techniques.