Selecting Embryos for IQ

Selecting embryos for IQ is quite difficult and not ethically accepted. The term designer babies may very common, but the success of creating such an embryo is very complicated. Human has complex traits of multiple genes. The advancement of medical science gradually understands the combined effect of multiple genes on the complex traits of a human. Preimplantation genetic screening of IVF embryos has suggested avoiding genetic disease transmission caused by a single mutation. But the genetic enhancement of embryos through preimplantation genetic screening is quite difficult. According to the research published in Cell in 2019, the genetic selection for specific traits that are resultant of combination multiple genes efforts is very much complicated. Most people may not realize this complexity. 

Bioethicists have often objections to preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). They are concerned that PGD could be used for creating designer babies. But there is a list of possibilities to create designer babies through preimplantation genetic diagnosis. PGD is primarily recommended for rare cases like when a couple knows they carry sequences with a risk for a specific, single-gene disease. Researchers agreed that the selecting embryos for particular traits are not controversial when applied to avoid serious disease like cystic fibrosis transmission. But it causes eugenics and unequal opportunities and challenges to accurately select embryos for desired traits.

A research team looked at the feasibility of selecting embryos based on IQ and height. IQ is commonly brought up in concerns regarding eugenics. Researchers suggested that the current knowledge of the genetics of these types of traits may not be enough to create a considerable increase in the desired traits in an IVF embryo selection scenario.

The genetic traits have an unpredictable outcome. The selection of embryos with a prediction of two points higher IQ level than the average is not assured that the result meets the goal. The chances of variability are not accounted for in the known gene variants. The analysis of real-world data also confirmed that selection and prediction of genetic traits to create embryos based on current knowledge is not enough always to achieve an accurate result. 

The IQ level of a child is not only influenced by DNA. But the Complex traits of intelligence are influenced by multiple factors diet and exposure to pollution. We cannot discount the environmental role in the genetic mechanisms behind these traits. 

References:

  1.  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/11/191121121757.htm 

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