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Sep 24, 2016

Breaking Taboo: Swedish Scientist Modifies DNA in Human Embryos –“Ignores Ethical Boundaries of Science”

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, ethics, genetics, science

In a recent experiment, a Swedish scientist, Fredrik Lanner, a developmental biologist at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, attempted to modify the genes of a human embryos injecting a gene-editing tool known as CRISPR-Cas9 into carefully thawed five human embryos donated by couples who had gone through in vitro fertilization (IVF). One did not survive the cooling and thawing process, while another one was severely damaged while being injected. The remaining three embryos, which were two-days old when they were injected, survived in good shape, with one of them dividing immediately after being injected.

Scientists have viewed modifying a human embryo as over the line for safety and ethical concerns. The fear is that Lanner’s work could open the door to others attempting to use genetically modified embryos to make babies. One mistake could introduce a new disease in the human gene pool that can be inherited by future generations. Scientists are also concerned on the possibility of “designer babies,” where parents could choose traits they want for their babies.

Fredrik Lanner (right) of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and his student Alvaro Plaza Reyes examine a magnified image of an human embryo that they used to attempt to create genetically modified healthy human embryos. (Credit: Rob Stein/NPR)

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  • Peter Smafield on September 27, 2016 7:44 pm

    modifying the DNA code of humans is something that we must do if we want to control our own evolution. If we want to extend life so we can maintain the health and mental flexibility of youth into two hundred or more years of active life. Also, we need to have a library of as much diverse samples of human DNA as possible incase we find that it is needed in the future. I applaud the Swedish scientists who are conducting this experiment. I hope the embryo is allowed to live. I would however make sure that a very limited number of people are given identifying information about the person if he or she is born.