Can I alter my genes?

My dad is dark-skinned, my mother light so could I change the colour of my skin?
10 January 2017



Milly asks: I was curious if it’s possible to alter your genes, like alter the amount of melanin in your skin. For example, my father has darker more olive skin and my mother pale freckled skin. I have pale freckled skin, would it be possible to manipulate my genes to make my skin darker? Would these dark skin cells already be in my genes from my father’s side but the pale genes outweigh them?


Chris Smith put Millie's question to University of Cambridge's Maude Borensztein...

Maude - I would like to begin by saying that now we do have the technology to edit our genes, to edit our DNA. So we are able to get one cell or a pool of cells and modify precisely our DNA sequence. The thing is people are thinking about that for gene therapy, for example.

Thinking about the question from Millie about the skin, we could target a small amount of skin cells and modify the gene. But thinking about modifying the entire skin body is something that seems very complicated.

Chris - So it might be possible in the future but right now, probably a step too far?

Maude - I would say that being able to be able to touch an entire organ, you should think about changing it, mutating it earlier. So I mean earlier…

Chris - Before it gets to those three trillion cells or so?

Maude - Exactly.


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