Scientists Create First Genetically Engineered Human Embryos In US

Scientists Create First Genetically Engineered Human Embryos In US

In December 2015, a group of global scientists and ethicists, including some from China, assembled by the US National Academy of Sciences said it would be irresponsible to use DNA editing tools to alter the genomes of human embryos, eggs, or sperm until safety, ethical and legal issues were resolved.

Now Mitalipov is believed to have broken new ground both in the number of embryos experimented upon and by demonstrating that it is possible to safely and efficiently correct defective genes that cause inherited diseases.

Currently, any effort to turn an edited human embryo into a baby in the United States is banned by Congress.

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Last year, Britain said some of its scientists could edit embryo genes to better understand human development. None of them were allowed to grow for more than a few days, and there was no intention of implanting them in the womb.

Scientists wanted to show that they can eradicate or correct genes that cause inherited disease, like thalassemia. The process is termed "germline engineering" because any genetically modified child would then pass the changes on to subsequent generations via their own germ cells-the egg and sperm.

Many are concerned the technology could be used to make so-called "designer babies". "So far as I know this will be the first study reported in the US", says Jun Wu, a collaborator at the Salk Institute, in La Jolla, California, who played a role in the project.

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"It's very hard to be able to comment on any specifics or the robustness of the science because there is no scientific paper", said Simon Waddington, Reader in Gene Transfer Technology at University College London. Their improved method allows for earlier delivery of CRISPR into cells at the same time sperm fertilize an egg.

The US intelligence community previous year labelled CRISPR a potential 'weapon of mass destruction'. Until the numbers are published, it will not be clear to what extent this reduced mosaicism.

Experiments are in the works now in the USA using gene-edited cells to try to treat people with various diseases, but "in order to really have a cure, you want to get this at the embryo stage", he said. "Unfortunately, we can provide no further information about the work", Eric Robinson, a spokesman for the OHSU, told the review. It's like using a molecular scissors to cut and paste DNA, and is much more precise than some types of gene therapy that can not ensure that desired changes will take place exactly where and as intended.

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