Altering human embryos giving rise to designer babies

Global Business

Medical Science has made significant leaps forward when it comes to reproduction and fertility. Many parents can now chose not only the sex of their babies, but even their eye color.

This next level of genetic science is giving rise to so-called “designer babies.”

CCTV America’s Shraysi Tandon reports from New York.

“Tall, olive skin, brown hair and blue eyes.” These aren’t descriptions found in an online dating profile. They’re choices available to those who are sperm-shopping.

Sperm banks worldwide tout stocks from what they say are ‘extraordinary donors,’ often emphasizing intelligence, beauty and athletic ability. Experts say transferring those traits to a child is not so simple.

But experts say genetic modification holds great promise in limiting disease. Last year a group of Chinese scientists from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou announced they had genetically modified human embryos to remove a tiny part of a gene responsible for a fatal blood disorder.

The experiment has not been without controversy.

New York based firm GenePeeks uses DNA from potential sperm donors and recipients to create virtual embryos, screening for more than 600 diseases. Doctors say the most important goal is a healthy baby.

Despite the promise, many experts in the field remain opposed to this research, saying it’s dangerously close to crossing an ethical line, especially in regards to gene editing.

Last month, the U.K. became the first country in the world to license genetic modification of human embryos for research. A slow crawl, perhaps, towards not just designer babies, but genetically modified human beings.