Chinese scientists have successfully edited the genes of human embryos for the first time, confirming rumors that secret genetic experiments had been happening in the country and prompting fears that the discovery could lead to a new kind of eugenics.
The researchers were able to successfully modify a specific gene responsible for a potentially fatal blood disorder. But they say that problems encountered during the testing mean that it is unlikely to be used more widely in the immediate future.
The technique could one day be used to edit out fatal and destructive genetic diseases. But others worry that it is unethical and could wreak unknown havoc on the human gene pool.
Using non-viable embryos obtained from fertility clinics, a group of scientists led by Junjiu Huang, a researcher in genetics at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, managed to inject embryos with an enzyme that can be programmed to target a specific gene. Along with another molecule that is also added to the embryo, that injection can repair or replace genes that are considered to be a problem… see more