Scientists modify genes of embryos

A team of researchers in Portland, Oregon has carried out the first known attempt at genetically modifying human embryos in the United States. According to an article in the MIT Technology Review, researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University successfully changed the DNA of many one-cell embryos with the gene-editing technique CRISPR.

Three previous reports of editing human embryos have been reported by scientists in China, but this research “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,” the article states.

None of the embryos were allowed to develop for more than a few days, were never intended to be implanted, it says, but “the experiments are a milestone on what may prove to be an inevitable journey toward the birth of the first genetically modified humans.”

Scientists hope that, by editing the genetic code, they can remove or fix genes that cause inherited disease. But critics believe this “could open the floodgates to a brave new world of ‘designer babies,’ … a prospect bitterly opposed by a range of religious organizations, civil society groups, and biotech companies.”

You can read the article here. And let us know what you think about this new scientific development.

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