Today, regulators in Great Britain granted permission for researchers to begin genetically modifying human embryos.
When many people think of genome editing, one think of movies like Gattaca and people toying around with pre-determined characteristics in order to create babies with ideal traits, eye color, hair color, abilities and such. There are tons of ethical and moral concerns.
But the Francis Crick Institute in London plans to study the embryos for 14 days in order to try to figure out why some embryos result in a miscarriage and others grow until term. The European nation’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) approved the plans proposed by stem cell scientist Kathy Niakan.
The group will use leftover embryos donated from IVF couples and study a single cell til it grows to about 250 cells.
Niakan will utilize a genome editing procedure called Crispr-Cas9 to turn genes on and off in early stage human embryos. She will then monitor how the modifications will impact placenta development. This editing procedure permit scientists to make precise DNA changes with the potential to correct faulty genes and treat genetic disorders.
Correcting disorders is one thing. Ethicists fear this technology will soon allow parents to select the traits they want their future kids to have.
After studying the cell growth, the embryos will be destroyed. A couple of years ago the US Food and Drug Administration held hearings to discuss proposals to do the same here but it ultimately was not approved.
There was a lot of outrage over harvesting and growing embryos that will never be implanted in a woman but instead destroyed. Here you go inserting concerns about the destruction of embryos. And a look a this amazing footage of a very active fetus inside her mom’s womb.
h/t The Guardian
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