Scientific success in embryo editing re-opens reg debate

Posted August 03, 2017

For the first time, scientists said, they corrected a gene mutation linked to inherited heart conditions in human embryos using the approach. This time the researchers used normal embryos, which they found increased the proportion of embryos that were edited from 14% to 50%.

It's laboratory research only, nowhere near ready to be tried in a pregnancy.

This method significantly differed from studies in which scientists used the CRISPR tool to manually replace what was cut out with whatever the scientists desired. And that raises ethical questions.

The procedure was successful in 42 out of 58 embryos that underwent gene editing.

"We need to eradicate these genetic conditions", Urbina said.

News of the remarkable experiment began to circulate last week, but details became public Wednesday with a paper in the journal Nature.

Developmental biologist Robin Lovell-Badge of the Francis Crick Institute in London shares those concerns.

Unlike research groups before them - which worked on embryos that were not capable of ever becoming a baby - this study involved the creation of healthy human embryos specifically for research purposes.

"The question that will be most debated is whether the same principle of modifying the genes of an embryo in vitro is acceptable", analyzed by an independent expert, professor Darren Griffin (University of Kent), quoted by the Science Media Centre.

The new report was published August 2 in the journal Nature.

The global research team targeted a defective gene - the MYBPC3 gene - that causes hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a deadly heart condition that affects about 1 in 500 people worldwide. Amato, the Times said, acknowledged that it might be used "when screening embryos is not an option or to reduce arduous IVF cycles for women".

A group of South Korean and US scientists successfully corrected a disease-causing mutation in human embryos, a local research institute said Thursday, a groundbreaking discovery that would open up new pathways to treat and prevent genetic diseases.

In the study, the details of which were published in the journal Nature, the genetic fix was carried out on donor eggs which were fertilised with sperm containing the defective gene.

We sought to investigate human gamete and embryo DNA fix mechanisms activated in response to CRISPR-Cas9-induced DSBs.

Coming soon - cut-and-paste children?

In the case of the recent trial at Oregon Health and Science University, researchers deleted a part of the genome that causes a mutation that can lead to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and filled the gap with a healthy strand of DNA.

Forty-two (72.4 percent) of the resulting embryos contained two mutation-free copies of the MYBPC3 gene.

Those regulations would mean that scientists could only start interfering with embryonic genes when it was clear that the child would grow up with "serious diseases and disability", and when absolutely no alternative exists. He stated that human beings should never be subjected to the research without themselves or their guardians being offered informed consent and without the treatment being ordered to the patient's health and healing. The remaining 16 embryos suffered unwanted genetic insertions or deletions, demonstrating that the editing technique requires further improvement. But, with other countries also carrying out similar experiments, as China first did a year ago, the tide is turning. Beginning the process before fertilization avoided that problem: Until now, "everybody was injecting too late", Mitalipov said. This is why scientists have not been allowed to develop over a few days.

MORE: First CRISPR Human Trial Approved in the U.S. In the US, Congress has barred the Food and Drug Administration from even considering human trials with edited embryos, while in the United Kingdom it is illegal to implant genetically modified embryos in women. "This brings it closer to clinic, but there's still a lot of work to do".

The finding has wider implications for research, Mitalipov noted.

"On the other hand, the trajectory is for this technology to be sufficiently robust that it will eventually be used", Kalichman wrote.

A scientific breakthrough in OR that offers hope to those with genetic defects that cause deadly diseases faces steep hurdles to be tested. Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society, said research like this can lead to doctors offering "genetic upgrades" to babies.

"All we did is un-modify the already mutated gene".