American scientists have been jealous of Chinese rivals who have used CRISPR gene-editing techniques on human embryos. This week, however, it was revealed that scientists at a lab in Portland, Oregon, have successfully used the technique on human embryos.
According to a scoop by MIT Technology Review, a team led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health and Science University successfully edited a gene for a genetic disease in scores of human embryos which had been created with sperm donated by carriers of the gene. None of the embryos were allowed to live for more than a few days.
The research is still unpublished and Dr Mitalipov refused to comment.
Chinese scientists have published three papers describing how they had edited human embryos. But it turns out that the technique is not as straightforward as they hoped. As the embryo developed, they found that not all of the cells had been “edited” and that there were some “off target” effects. According to the MIT Technology Review, Mitalipov’s technique has overcome these difficulties.
Genetic enhancement, or “designer babies”, is still illegal in the United States. However, equipped with Mitalipov’s techniques, scientists elsewhere could offer this service. As the MIT Technology Review points out:
... the creation of a gene-edited person could be attempted at any moment, including by IVF clinics operating facilities in countries where there are no such legal restrictions.In any case, a report by the US National Academy of Sciences in February has already green-lighted research on germline modification, provided it is used only for curing genetic diseases.
| Saturday, July 29, 2017 | BioEdge
We're back! And although the northern hemisphere summer is normally a slow-news season, bioethics has been on the front page of world newspapers.
The drama of the dying British baby Charlie Gard, his loving parents, the doctors at Great Ormond Street hospital in central London, and the English law has captured the imagination of people everywhere.
To be honest, I am not sure whose "side" I should be on. Parents should normally make healthcare decisions for their children.
But there are cases in which their choices are plainly wrong -- as a Swedish doctor suggests below in his version of the mysterious resdignation syndrome among refugee children -- and the advice of doctors should be heeded.
Which was the case here? We'd love to hear from you.
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