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Scientists edit embryos' genes to study early human development

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posted on Sep, 20 2017 @ 12:28 PM
Scientists are using a tool/technique to knock out a gene in embryos, some say this is a big step to designer babies.

LONDON, Sept 20 (Reuters) - British scientists have used a genome editing tool known as CRISPR/Cas9 to knock out a gene in embryos just a few days old, testing the technique's ability to decipher key gene functions in early human development.

The researchers said their experiments, using a technology that is the subject of fierce international debate because of fears that it could be used to create babies to order, will deepen understanding of the biology of early human development.

Tinkering with genes using the CRISPR/Cas9 system is a way to see what happens when genes are not working. So turn them off in an embryo and see what happens.

"One way to find out what a gene does in the developing embryo is to see what happens when it isn't working," said Kathy Niakan, a stem cell scientists who led the research at Britain's Francis Crick Institute.

"Now we have demonstrated an efficient way of doing this, we hope that other scientists will use it to find out the roles of other genes."

After mouse embryos, human stem cells and now the human embryos. The scientists made their changes to 41 embryos and then let them live/grow for 7 days, then development was stopped.

Niakan's team decided to use it to stop a key gene from producing a protein called OCT4, which normally becomes active in the first few days of human embryo development.

They spent more than a year optimising their various techniques using mouse embryos and human embryonic stem cells in lab dishes, before starting work on human embryos.

To inactivate OCT4, they used CRISPR/Cas9 to change the DNA of 41 human embryos. After seven days, embryo development was stopped and the embryos were analysed.

Interesting days we live in.

edit on 20-9-2017 by seasonal because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 20 2017 @ 12:34 PM
Wait until they start splicing in other bits of dna like from sharks, jellyfish and lemmings.

posted on Sep, 20 2017 @ 12:44 PM
a reply to: IgnoranceIsntBlisss

Keep in mind tech is usually years ahead of what the public is told.

posted on Sep, 20 2017 @ 12:52 PM
a reply to: seasonal

I do recall Brave New World actually mentioned something similar to do this.

posted on Sep, 20 2017 @ 01:02 PM
a reply to: seasonal

I'm all for this....if we didn't live in a class system.
We destroy so much beauty and amazing things that all of humanity could share in because of our class systems.

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