Scientists Want Approval To Genetically Modify Human Embryos

Researchers want permission to use gene editing to gain “fundamental insights into early human development.”

Dr Kathy Niakan and her team from The Francis Crick Institute in London have applied to the Human Fertilisation And Embryology Authority (HFEA) to use new “genome editing” techniques on human embryos.

The researchers are hoping to use gene the technique known as CRISPR/Cas9 to understand the genes that human embryos need to develop successfully.

While some argue this research could lead to better treatment of diseases, others are concerned about the potential ramifications.

Dr Niakan says, “"This knowledge may improve embryo development after in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and might provide better clinical treatments for infertility.”

“Importantly, in line with HFEA regulations, any donated embryos would be used for research purposes only. These embryos would be donated by informed consent and surplus to IVF treatment.”

Back in April, Chinese biologists announced they had carried out the first ever experiments to edit the DNA of human embryos.

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