American Scientists Successfully Edited Faulty Genes In Human Embryos. Is That Ethical?

  • American Scientists Successfully Edited Faulty Genes In Human Embryos. Is That Ethical?

American Scientists Successfully Edited Faulty Genes In Human Embryos. Is That Ethical?

- Researchers in OR have announced that they have successfully altered genes in a human embryo for the first time in the United States, but Catholic ethicists warn that the procedure was morally objectionable for many reasons.

According to an article published by American Health Line earlier this week, a team of biologists in OR have conducted the first known experiment in the United States using the gene-editing technique CRISPR to genetically modify viable human embryos.

In order to conduct the study, scientists first fertilised eggs with sperm cells that included a gene that causes a heart condition known for causing sudden death in young competitive athletes.

"We have succeeded in correcting the mutated gene which causes hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in human embryos", said Kim Jin-soo, a lead researcher of the IBS team said.

In the US, scientists can perform laboratory embryo research only with private, not federal taxpayer, funding, as the OR team did.

The research marks a major milestone and, while a long way from clinical use, it raises the prospect that gene editing may one day protect babies from a variety of hereditary conditions.

Chinese scientists have used CRISPR-Cas9 to manipulate embryos riddled with gene defects.

The experiments were privately funded; US tax dollars aren't allowed for embryo research. First, they created pluripotent stem cells from a skin sample of a man with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and a known MYBPC3 mutation.

The scientists utilized healthy donated human germ cells carrying the said gene mutation.

The technique increased the success rate for removal of the gene variant from the expected 50-50 chance to 72 percent - that is, 42 out of 58 embryos tested. In the remaining 27.6% embryos, the cellular cut-repairing mechanism introduced some unwanted insertions or deletions near the cut.

And some embryos had cells that did not get repaired-a phenomenon called mosaicism that could result in the mutation being passed on-as well as unplanned mutations that could cause other health problems.

More than 10,000 disorders have been linked to just a single genetic error, and as the researchers continue with their work, their next target is BRCA, a gene associated with breast cancer growth.

Additionally, we're at least decades away from having gene therapy techniques like this one become the norm.

In more advanced cases additional "template" DNA can be added to a cell which can then be used to mend the break and make it possible to re-write the genetic code.

The embryos were allowed to grow for five days for analysis. An example of a legitimate issue regarding genome editing is whether the technology will be safe for clinical use in the near future.

The objective: to cut the defective DNA to bring about its fix. In no other field of science does that age-old adage ring true than when it comes to fertility and the study of embryos, genetics and testing.

And Congress has banned the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from even considering the possibility of human clinical trials involving embryos with edited inherited genes.

Last year, Britain granted scientists permission to edit embryo DNA in research on the causes of infertility and miscarriages.

Embryonic gene editing should move forward "only for compelling reasons and under strict oversight", ethics experts said in a recent report from National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine.

Asked about critics of genetic manipulation, he said his work has nothing to do with the creation of "designer babies" through genetic manipulation to give the children traits desired by the parents.