New Study on Gene Editing of Human Embryos Successfully Cured Genetic Mutation

Khryss | Published 2017-08-02 20:25

We are all subjected to the genetic lottery. We were born and raised to accept the genes that we were passed on--the good, the bad, and the ugly--for we have no other choice. Or so we thought.

Gene-editing technology called CRISPR was introduced in the year 2014. With this, the possibility of editing sections of the genome to alter, add, or remove parts of the DNA sequence can be actualized. Since then, several groups of scientists have been working on correcting human's defective genes.

And despite the often-stated fear of having a world of designer babies and "genetic have-nots" due to gene editing, scientist are still pressing ahead. Just earlier this year, scientists in China announced the successful editing of the genetic makeup of viable human embryos, even fully curing a genetic mutation in one of them. However, this was just based on editing six normal embryos.

Now, a more recent study led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health and Science University, reportedly made "many tens" of embryos from sperm donors with inherited disease mutations and seemed to have a much improved earlier results from China.

They have apparently managed to tackle editing errors on which the desired genome editing took place in only some of the cells. This means the supposedly prevented disease could still be developed by the resulting children. Mitalipov’s team have reportedly done this by injecting the CRISPR device earlier (by the time the sperm fertilized the eggs). To what extent has this been enhanced will still be unclear until the publication.

Nonetheless, today’s technology realizing the invasion of human anatomy still begs the question: Where do we draw the line? For this could quite literally define the future of humankind. Perhaps it’s a question that needs an educated dialogue so that just like any scientific advancements, it could focus on putting the humanity first.

They all say don't fear what you don't know but these techniques/experiments are relatively new and may lead to consequences not yet identified by current studies. A possible cure and prevention, or an incoming array of danger? I guess we'll have to see.

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