First Human Embryos Edited in US

The power to change your DNAEQUINOX GRAPHICS  SCIENCE

According to the Technology Review, past efforts by USA scientists to use CRISPR have been inconsistent and resulted in "editing errors" that gave weight to arguments the technique "would be an unsafe way to create a person".

The only previous work like this has been reported in China.

According to Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), adjustment of genes in a human embryo has been used for the first time in the United States. The fear is that it can lead to manipulating the human genome at will-not only to correct genetic defects, but to enhance certain human characteristics, such as athleticism and intelligence, and remove those viewed as undesirable.

"It is proof of principle that it can work", the researcher said. They significantly reduced mosaicism.

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Mitalipov's group appears to have overcome earlier difficulties by "getting in early" and injecting CRISPR into the eggs at the same time they were fertilized with sperm.

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

The object of altering human embryonic DNA is to correct or eliminate genes that lead to inherited diseases, such as the blood disorder beta-thalassemia. "I don't think it's the start of clinical trials yet, but it does take it further than anyone has before", a scientist familiar with the project was quoted as saying. In a report this year, National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the National Academy of Medicine said scientific advances made gene editing in human reproductive cells "a realistic possibility that deserves serious consideration".

That concept is similar to one tested in mice by Tony Perry of Bath University.

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In this way, researchers can precisely turn off specific genes in the genome.

Born in Kazakhstan when it was part of the former Soviet Union, Mitalipov has for years pushed scientific boundaries. In 2013, Mitalipov was the first to derive stem cells from human embryos created by cloning adult cells.

However, research in the field of genetic modifications of human embryos has always been deemed controversial.

The technique was previously tested by Tony Perry, who was able to successfully edit the genes in mice to change the expected fur color of their offspring.

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Despite such barriers, the creation of a gene-edited person could be attempted at any moment, including by IVF clinics operating facilities in countries where there are no such legal restrictions.

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