Scientists in U.K. Will Begin Research Using Gene Editing

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Gene editing
On Feb. 1, 2016, BBC News reported that the Francis Crick Institute in London has been given a green light to move forward with “gene editing” research. It is the institute’s goal to provide greater knowledge regarding the earliest moments of human life.

Dr. Kathy Niakin applied for permission to begin this research through the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). An article in New Scientist dated Jan. 13, 2016, explains Niakin’s desire to recreate the technique used by Chinese researchers. It is the doctor’s hope that she and her team be the frist researchers outside of China to use CRISPR Gene Editing.

When explaining why she applied for permission to begin editing human embryos, Niakin stated, “We would really like to understand the genes needed for a human embryo to develop successfully into a healthy baby.”

She further explained that this research could provide a greater understanding of why miscarriages and infertility are so common. The gene editing will aid researchers, who will be experimenting with embryos within the first seven days of fertilization, to begin to understand what causes a woman to miscarry.

HFEA, the regulator of the program, indicates the research by Niakin’s team could start in the upcoming months. There is no specific timeline indicated.

As gene editing is controversial, the regulator has stated that no embryos undergoing gene modification will be implanted in women, and it would be illegal to do so.

By Cathy Milne

BBC News: Scientists get ‘gene editing’ go-ahead
Image Courtesy of Pascal’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License