Interesting facts to know about Sweden’s human embryo editing study
A study from Sweden in which scientists have edited the genetic material in health human embryos has been gaining a lot of attention. The study that is the first to carry out human embryo editing has become quite controversial.
In the study, biologist Fredrik Lanner, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and his team members have injected human embryos with a gene-editing tool in order to make specific changes in the embryo’s DNA. The procedure was carried out at a very early stage of development.
The researchers carried out the experiment with an aim that one day the development could lead to new methods to treat fertility and prevent miscarriages. There are some interesting facts to know about the study.
This is not the first time when scientists have edited a gene in human embryos. Last year in China, scientists experimented to bring changes in human embryos. A year later, a different research group, also from China made efforts to edit DNA in human embryos so as to have resistance towards infection from HIV. But both these experiments could not have resulted into human babies.
In the case of Lanner's study, the embryos are healthy and in theory, could lead to pregnancy. The embryos were donated by the couples who have gone through IVF at the institute. Lanner has decided not to exceed embryo development beyond 14 days.
In the study, a gene-editing technique called CRISPR-Cas9 is to be used. The technique would eliminate certain genes that are involved in the early stages of development. It will be done as the researchers want to know more about the role these genes play in development.
The study has been considered controversial, as it has raised concerns that it could be a step towards ‘designer babies’. But it can also not be ignored that human embryo editing is gaining acceptance.