In Breakthrough, Scientists Edit a Dangerous Mutation from Genes in Human Embryos
Scientists successfully edited genes in human embryos to repair a common and serious disease-causing mutation, producing healthy embryos for the first time according to a study published last week.
The study, published in the journal Nature, comes just months after a national scientific committee recommended new guidelines for modifying embryos, easing blanket prescriptions but urging the technique be used only for dire medical problems.
Scientists at Oregon Health and Science University, with colleagues in California, China, and South Korea, reported that they repaired dozens of embryos, fixing a mutation that causes a common heart condition that can lead to sudden death later in life.
If embryos with the repaired mutation were allowed to develop into babies, they would not only be disease-free but also would not transmit the disease to descendants.
Much more research is needed before the method could be tested in clinical trials, currently impermissible under federal law. But if the technique is found to work safely with this and other mutations, it might help some couples who could not otherwise have healthy children.