Human embryo edited for first time in U.S., pushes limits

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One day, CRISPR could allow us to delete genes in order to eradicate genetic diseases, add in new genes in order to vastly improve various biological functions, or even genetically modify human embryos in order to create an entirely new class of humans...of super humans.

In a step that some of the nation's leading scientists have long warned against and that has never before been accomplished, biologists in OR have edited the DNA of viable human embryos efficiently and apparently with few mistakes, according to a report in Technology Review.

Shoukhrat Mitalipov from Oregon Health and Science University and his team have reportedly corrected defective genes that cause inherited diseases in "a large number of one-cell embryos" using CRISPR.

Earlier this year, a team of Chinese researchers at Guangzhou Medical University succeeded at using CRISPR to edit the genes of some normal human embryos.

For ethical reasons, the embryos were not allowed to develop for more than a few days.

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In December 2015, scientists and ethicists at an worldwide meeting held at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in Washington said it would be "irresponsible" to use gene editing technology in human embryos for therapeutic purposes, such as to correct genetic diseases, until safety and efficacy issues are resolved. The publication first reported the news on Wednesday. It is thought to be the first such work in the US; previous experiments like this have been reported from China.

The trouble with mosaicism is that there is no sure way to detect it before implanting an embryo into the uterus.

And earlier this year in the USA, the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Medicine said in a report that altering the genes of embryos might be OK if done under strict criteria and aimed at preventing serious disease.

CRISPR-Cas9 is a tool for making precise edits in DNA, discovered in bacteria.

"If America were to take the lead both in terms of working with journals, working with private foundations, with patient groups, and working with state and federal government, I think you'd get collaboration from the rest of the world", Caplan says. Critics worry, however, that gene-editing in embryos opens the floodgates to the creation of "designer babies" in which parents specify traits they want their children to have. They significantly reduced mosaicism. In the new work, Technology Review reported, Mitalipov and his colleagues created human embryos using sperm donated by men with the genetic mutation that they planned to try to fix with CRISPR. Many are drooling to engage in eugenic genetic enhancements.