Health Care

Human embryos genetically altered for first time with new technology

Human embryos genetically altered for first time with new technology”

A controversial technology which allows scientists to "edit" the genes in a human embryo has been used for the first time in America, according to Oregon Health and Science University.

The research, led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov, head of OHSU's Centre for Embryonic Cell and Gene Therapy, involves a technology known as CRISPR that has opened up new frontiers in genetic medicine because of its ability to modify genes quickly and efficiently.

OPB was not immediately able to independently confirm the breakthrough. However, if his research passes peer review it could be a significant step for scientists in the US.

The report said the three previous instances of editing human embryos were all published by scientists in China.

American Scientists have managed to edit and improve the DNA of human embryos in an effort to correct the gene defects that cause inherited diseases.

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.

Although Mitalipov and his colleagues are under a strict confidentiality agreement with a leading scientific journal, which has scheduled to publish the work next month [August], we understand from other sources that the study breaks new ground in demonstrating the feasibility of creating genetically modified babies.

Although the report said that "many tens" of embryos were created in the experiment, they were never meant to be implanted into a womb and were only allowed to develop for a few days.

According to MIT Technology Review, the DNA of a large number of one-cell embryos was changed with the gene editing technique CRISPR.

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

In the US West Coast state of OR, however, it is not illegal to create human embryos for research purposes providing the work does not involve the use of federal government funding.

A scientist who is familiar with the project but chose to remain anonymous said: "It is proof of principle that it can work".

Considering recent history, I fear I know the answer.

Born in Kazakhstan when it was part of the Soviet Union, Shoukhrat Mitalipov, born in 1961, trained at a prestigious biological research institute in Moscow. However, until now Mitalipov has not been widely known to be working on Crispr-Cas9 and human IVF embryos, especially for germline genetic engineering.

He has also pioneered the field of mitochondrial donation, creating the world's first "three-parent" monkeys.

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