Published: Fri, July 28, 2017
Medical | By Rita Mcdonald

First human embryos edited in United States through "CRISPR" technology

First human embryos edited in United States through

Shoukhrat Mitalipov is the first US -based scientist known to have edited the DNA of human embryos. They're said to have shown in experiments with "many tens" of human embryos that they can correct genetic mutations that cause disease while avoiding mosaicism and off-target effects.

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.

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences published a report in February that was widely seen as giving the go-ahead for lab research on this type of human genetic modification. 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.

The embryos, which were modified to test the feasibility of fixing known disease-causing genes, were terminated days after the experiment.

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Critics, however, said that it could open the door to the world of "designer babies", where people choose the traits they want in a child.

USA researchers have successfully carried out gene editing on human embryos using the revolutionary technique known as CRISPR, the first time the procedure has been performed in the USA, a report said on Thursday (July 27). But it is not clear what disease or genes were edited.

Scientists familiar with the new United States work told MIT Technology Review that the OR team has improved these issues.

Results of the peer-reviewed study are expected to be published soon in a scientific journal, according to OHSU spokesman Eric Robinson.

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"It is proof of principle that it can work", the researcher said. Until the numbers are published, it will not be clear to what extent this reduced mosaicism. US Intelligence agencies have warned against CRISPR, calling it a potential "weapon of mass destruction".

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

Earlier this year however, NAS and the National Academy of Medicine said scientific advances make gene editing in human reproductive cells 'a realistic possibility that deserves serious consideration'.

Scientists from the country were the first to use the technique on human embryos to fix a gene that causes fatal blood disorder.

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