Published: Fri, July 28, 2017
Medical | By Ismael Lynch

First Human Embryos Edited in US

First Human Embryos Edited in US

In the International Summit on Human Gene Editing held in 2015 in Washington D.C., scientists debated the safety risks and ethical hazards of modifying the human embryos and human "germline" (the genetic blueprint that will be passed on to future generations) using CRISPR.

In December 2015, scientists and ethicists at an worldwide meeting held at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in Washington said it would be "irresponsible" to use gene editing technology in human embryos for therapeutic purposes, such as to correct genetic diseases, until safety and efficacy issues are resolved.

The effort involved changing the DNA of a group one-cell human embryos with the "cut and paste" gene-editing technique, known as CRISPR.

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences published a report in February that was widely seen as giving the go-ahead for lab research on this type of human genetic modification.

Last year, Britain said some of its scientists could edit embryo genes to better understand human development.

"Although none of the embryos were allowed to develop for more than a few days - and there was never any intention of implanting them into a womb - the experiments are a milestone on what may prove to be an inevitable journey toward the birth of the first genetically modified humans", said the report in the MIT Technology Review, a magazine published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The team used donated sperm from men who carried inherited disease mutations to demonstrate that the genes can be corrected.

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The practice raises a lot of ethical concerns, after all, with critics being especially anxious that it could lead to designer babies.

Scientists familiar with the new USA work told MIT Technology Review that the OR team has improved these issues.

Reached by Skype, Mitalipov declined to comment on the results, which he said are pending publication. US Intelligence agencies have warned against CRISPR, calling it a potential "weapon of mass destruction". 'They significantly reduced mosaicism.

The research, led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov, head of OHSU's Center for Embryonic Cell and Gene Therapy, involves a technology known as CRISPR which allows scientists to modify genes quickly and effectively.

"The results of this study will be published soon in a scientific journal". But it is not clear what disease or genes were edited.

An unnamed scientist familiar with the work told MIT Technology Review that it was "proof of principle that it can work". Along with the National Academy of Medicine, the academy stated that scientific advances make gene editing in human reproductive cells "a realistic possibility that deserves serious consideration".

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