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Gene editing gets go ahead

CRISPR-CAS9 gene editing complex from Streptococcus pyogenes. Th

Gene editing has been given it’s first licence in the UK, as part of research into miscarriages and why they happen.

With research taking place at the Francis Crick Institute in London, it has however attracted controversy due to the association with “designer babies”.

David King from Human Genetics Alert warns against the new move: “This is the first step on a path that scientists have carefully mapped out towards the legalization of (genetically modified) babies,”

The gene editing tool, known as CRISPR,  involves deleting, repairing or replacing bits of DNA inside living cells.

Kathy Niakan, a scientist from the Francis Crick Institute in London, explains that genetically-modifying genes will purely be for research purposes: “We hope to use this technology to improve our understanding of the earliest stages of human development.”

She says that the research would help them to understand how a human embryo develops “inform our understanding of the causes of miscarriage. The knowledge may also improve embryo development after IVF and might provide better clinical treatments for infertility.

“However, it is difficult to know how long it will take to carry out the project. In particular, we need to obtain sufficient embryos.”

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