First Human Embryos Edited in US

Shoukhrat Mitalipov is the first U.S.-based scientist known to have edited the DNA of human embryos.		
	OHSU  Kristyna Wentz-Graff

The report claims that Mitalipov broke 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".

As reported in MIT Technology Review, Mitalipov and team managed to change the DNA of numerous one-cell embryos using a gene editing technique called CRISPR.

Scientists in China have published similar studies with mixed results.

For ethical reasons, the embryos were not allowed to develop for more than a few days.

According to MIT Technology Review, the experiment was just an exercise in science - the embryos were not allowed to develop for more than a few days and were never meant to be implanted into a womb.

Scientists wanted to show that they can eradicate or correct genes that cause inherited disease, like thalassemia.

Some critics say germline experiments could open the floodgates to a courageous new world of "designer babies" engineered with genetic enhancements-a prospect bitterly opposed by a range of religious organizations, civil society groups, and biotech companies. The publication first reported the news on Wednesday.

A scientist familiar with Mitalipov's project said the tests were "proof of principle that it can work".

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The US intelligence community previous year labelled CRISPR a potential 'weapon of mass destruction'. "Unfortunately, we can provide no further information about the work", Eric Robinson, a spokesman for the OHSU, told the review.

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 results of this study will be published soon in a scientific journal". Until the numbers are published, it will not be clear to what extent this reduced mosaicism.

Researchers from Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) in Portland carried out the study, according to MIT's Technology Review.

Successfully altering genes in embryos could theoretically allow scientists to cures diseases, including cancer.

But in March this year, that academy and the American Medical Academy said in a new report that recent advances in the field "opened up a realistic possibility that deserves serious consideration".

Don't expect a new generation of gene-edited people in the United States, though: Any local efforts to turn edited IVF embryos into babies have, so far, been blocked by Congress.

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