Editing genes of human embryos can became the next big thing in genetics


Researchers from UK need a permission to edit the genes of human embryos in a series of experiments targeted at establishing more regarding the earliest stages of human development. It is in that move that they have applied to get permission from the appropriate organs.

After the Chinese researchers sparked an international furore by stating that they had genetically modified human embryos, Kathy Niakan who is a stem cell scientist from London’s Francis Crick Institute has requested the British governments’ fertility regulator for a license to undertake similar experiments.

Niakam in a statement regarding application, which was directed to the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), affirmed that she did not have any intention to genetically alter the embryos for use in human reproduction. Instead she aimed at deepening the scientific understanding as to how a healthy human embryo develops.

“This knowledge may improve embryo development after in vitro fertilization (IVF) and might provide better clinical treatments for infertility,” she outlined in a statement adding that any donated embryos would help in carrying out research.

Globally many scientists are currently debating on the potential future use of the latest technology called CRISPR-Cas9.This technological advancement makes it possible to edit virtually any given gene. The technology is quite unique for its ability to find, alter or replace genetic defects.

According to a spokesman for the HFEA the British law bans genome editing of embryos for treatment purposes but with a recognized license can be used for research purposes.

Speaking, Sarah Chan at Edinburgh University’s Usher Institute for Population Health Sciences and Informatics insisted that the request for HFEA permission “should be cause for confidence, not concern.” She added, “Genome editing research undeniably has tremendous scientific potential, and UK scientists are poised to make a world-leading contribution to this exciting field,” she stated. “At the same time, we should be reassured to know that this work is being carried out under a robust regulatory scheme that ensures high scientific and ethical standards.”

Some Chinese Biologists have been recently working on an experiment to try and edit the DNA of human embryos.

Source: smh.com.au

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