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A New York scientist is attempting to edit the DNA of human embryos - a similar and controversial method to what Chinese scientists recently came under fire for doing just months ago.
Dr Dietrich Egli, a Columbia University developmental cell biologist, is using the Nobel Prize-winning CRISPR gene-editing method to try to repair DNA mutations in early embryos, he told NPR.
November - Scientist - News - Genomes - Twin
In November, a Chinese scientist went public with the news that he had already edited the genomes of twin embryos - and that they had developed and already been born a pair of healthy baby girls.
Dr Egli himself called that work 'genome vandalism,' but claims that his own experiments are purely for research purposes and intended to determine the safety of the procedure.
NPR - Embryos - Day - Development - Order
Currently, he told NPR, he is destroying the embryos after just one day of development, but in order to fully understand the safety of the procedure, Dr Egli will have to allow the embryos to develop for longer, raising serious ethical questions.
When it was developed, the CRISPR technique - which works like a chemical cut and paste, finding and removing faulty genes before replacing them with better copies - was hailed as hope for the end of genetic diseases.
Theory - Babies - Abnormalities - Risks - Disease
In theory, this could mean preventing any babies from being born with genetic abnormalities, and no or low risks for disease with genetic components, a prospect that's appealing to parents on a personal level and could reduce the burden of disease on public health.
But that could be a slippery slope.
Scientists - Genes - Problems - Genes - Traits
If scientists can edit out genes for problems, why couldn't they edit in genes for traits parents prefer?
Drawing a line between disease prevention and 'designer babies' is fodder for nearly endless bioethical debate.
Dr - Jiankui - Scientist - Southern - University
When Dr He Jiankui, a scientist at the Southern University...
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