Art and Science of Laboratory Medicine

Art and Science of Laboratory Medicine

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

UK is allowing genetic modification of human embryos

UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) made a landmark decision to grant scientists in London permission to genetically edit human embryos.

Thanks to the new licence, scientists at the Francis Crick Institute will be able to use a system called CRISPR/Cas9 (which is like an IRL copy-and-paste tool for DNA) to modify the genes of developing embryos, with the goal of improving IVF success rates and reducing miscarriages.

This is the first time a national regulatory body anywhere in the world has given the procedure the green light, and it's a huge day for science. But the move has also sparked a lot of concern about the creation of designer babies.

The facts you can share:
  1. Genetically editing humans isn't suddenly 'legal' in the UK
  2. The embryos used in the experiments will come from donors
  3. Don't worry, nothing's happening without ethics approval
  4. The embryos won't be brought to term
  5. This work could finally reveal how a healthy human embryo develops
  6. Experts are calling the decision a "victory for level-headed regulation over moral panic"
  7. But critics are worried that we're on a path towards designer babies
  8. This isn't the first time that human embryos will be genetically modified
  9. Still, CRISPR/Cas 9 is a really big deal
  10. There’s no sign of gene editing being allowed in human embryos in the US any time soon

Read more:
10 things you need to know about the UK allowing genetic modification of human embryos 

Source: ScienceAlert

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