Americans willing to test embryos for future college chances, survey finds

Americans willing to test embryos for future college chances, survey finds

Americans willing to test embryos for future college chances, survey finds

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“For the foreseeable future and perhaps forever, this technology will only be available to people who are already wealthy or otherwise privileged,” Meyer says. “As it impacts and boosts any offspring, [this] is not something that will be equally accessible to everyone. Just as wealth is inherited, it is literally things that are inherited. You can imagine a world in which this spreads across generations and contributes to exacerbating socio-economic gaps.


Educational level

The new poll compared people’s willingness to improve their children’s prospects in three ways: using SAT prep classes, embryo testing and gene editing on embryos. He found some support for even the most radical option, genetic modification of children, which is banned in the United States and many other countries. About 28% of respondents said they would probably if it was safe.

“These are important results. They support the existence of a gap between the generally negative attitudes of researchers and health professionals…and the attitudes of the general public,” says Shai Carmi, a geneticist and statistician at Hebrew University in Israel, who studies the embryo selection technology.

The authors of the new poll grapple with the implications of the information they helped uncover through a series of increasingly large studies to pinpoint the genetic causes of human social and cognitive traits, including sexual orientation and intelligence. This includes a report published last year on how DNA differences between more than 3 million people were linked to distance traveled in school, a life outcome that is correlated with a person’s intelligence. person.

The result of this research is a so-called “polygenic score,” or a genetic test that can predict from genes whether, among other things, someone is going to be more or less likely to go to college.

Of course, environmental factors matter a lot and DNA is not fate. Yet genetic testing is surprisingly predictive. In their survey, the researchers told people to assume that about 3% of kids will go to one of the top 100 colleges. By choosing the one of the 10 IVF embryos with the highest genetic score, the parents would increase this chance to 5% for their child.

It’s tempting to dismiss the benefit gained as negligible, but “assuming they’re right,” says Carmi, it’s actually “a very large relative increase” in the odds of going to such a school. for the offspring in question – about 67%.

Consumer polygenic prediction tests for a number of traits are already available from 23andMe. This company, for example, offers a “weight ratio” that predicts a person’s body mass index. Carmi says education predictions and body mass predictions have similar accuracy.


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