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In the early 2000s, genome editing seemed like the answer to parents who carried latent genes that could result in birth defects, future illnesses or poor quality of life for their potential children. But the technology was still unrefined and expensive. It seemed like it was too far off in the future — a science-fiction-inspired solution to real-world problems.

It wasn’t until the discovery of the CRISPR-Cas9 combination in 2013 that the conversation among scientists changed from “it’s impossible” to “should it be possible?”

Before being able to grasp the meaning of the term “designer babies,” it’s important to understand the building blocks of the system that makes it possible.

The scientific process of creating these possible “designer babies” is called genome editing. A genome is present in every living organism, and it encodes all the messages and instructions of that organism’s DNA sequence. This sequence makes up the characteristics and functions of that organism. CRISPR-cas9 and genome editing change those sequences, which in turn changes the message and the output of those cells.

In scientific terms, CRISPR, which stands... see more