A CRISPR View of Life
|Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
We now live in a society where many are trying to get a leg up where they can, whether it be through pharmacological neuroenhancement (like Ritalin and Adderall) or other neurotechnologies (like transcranial direct current simulation). Technology also allows us to exert an even earlier influence on neurodevelopmental disorders through prenatal genetic testing for fetuses. Such technologies include amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling, that screen for Down’s, Edwards’ and Patau’s syndromes, and give parents the chance to decide whether they would like to terminate or continue with their pregnancy. One article even claims 53% of all pregnancies were aborted following prenatal diagnoses of Down’s Syndrome, though there is still much dispute over the exact numbers.
|Image courtesy of Prezi
Among similar lines, one study done at Yerkes in the Dias and Ressler lab opens yet another door to the realm of epigenetics and how ancestral sensitivity to certain stimuli can be transferred to subsequent generations. One notable example of this transgenerational information transfer includes the “Dutch Hunger Winter” in 1944, during which the F0 generation experienced the famine conditions and the F1 generation, in utero at that time, later developed astonishing rates of diabetes and obesity, as did their offspring (F2 generation). Similarly, another study found that a nutrition-linked mechanism through the male line seems to have influenced the risk for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes mellitus mortality. Taken further, maybe one day we can use CRISPR to edit our genes so that such unfavorable traits are not passed along in this way.
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Sahu, S. (2017). A CRIPSR View of Life. The Neuroethics Blog. Retrieved on , from http://www.theneuroethicsblog.com/2017/01/a-crispr-view-of-life.html