With gene editing becoming cheaper, more reliable, and easier the speculation about creating human GMOs intensifies. The news from Amsterdam of the discovery of 40 genes that influence human intelligence will fuel even more speculation. It will also create sensationally exaggerated headlines.
The genes, in fact, account for only 5% of the variation in human intelligence. A recent report on the research includes this:
But research on the genetics of IQ has always raised serious questions about how the information might be used. Could human embryos be chosen according to their future brain power? Could scientists make drugs to enhance human intelligence? If so, would only the richest have access to such powerful technology? “There is always the question of designer babies and can we use this knowledge to improve intelligence,” said Posthuma. “These are valid questions, but it’s very far from where we are now. You certainly wouldn’t be able to design a baby based on the current knowledge.”
Such uses are on the horizon. IVF embryos are already screened for genetic faults. With larger studies, scientists expect to find more genes that contribute to intelligence. Eventually, the work may reach a point where the genomes of IVF embryos could be used to rank them according to their intellectual potential, even if the difference is so small as to be insignificant. “You can imagine that as soon as it becomes possible to explain a good deal of the variance in intelligence, people are going to start doing this,” said Stuart Ritchie, a researcher in cognitive ageing at Edinburgh University and author of the book Intelligence: All that Matters.
The prospect of IQ-boosting drugs should not be dismissed either, Ritchie added.
For the full article see: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/may/22/scientists-uncover-40-genes-iq-einstein-genius?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Lab+notes+2016&utm_term=228132&subid=20984534&CMP=ema-3242