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Gene-Editing: Swedish Scientist Try To Modify DNA Of Healthy Human Embryos

Gene-Editing: Swedish Scientist Try To Modify DNA Of Healthy Human Embryos

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First Posted: Sep 23, 2016 05:11 AM EDT
"Gene-editing" could lead to treating fertility and prevent miscarriages, according to a Swedish researcher. Thomas Splettstoesser / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

Gene-editing has been a controversial issue because of safety and ethical concerns. On the other hand, a Swedish biologist Fredrik Lanner still attempts to alter the genes of healthy human embryos.

NPR reports the details of the visit of an award-winning health and science correspondent Rob Stein to the Stockholm laboratory where the "gene-editing" experiments are being conducted. In genetic editing, the genetic code is altered with new engineering techniques. It allows the embryos to develop in a laboratory for at least few days.

Fredrik Lanner is the first researcher to try to edit the DNA of healthy human embryos. According to another NPR report, Lanner wants to do this to know more about how the genes regulate early embryonic development. He is optimistic that it could lead to new discovery in treating fertility and prevent miscarriages. He also advises other scientists to learn more about embryonic stem cells for treatment of many diseases in the future.

Lanner said that having children is one of the major drives for a lot of people. He further said that for people who do struggle with this, it can tend to become a very important part of their life. He continued that if people can understand how these early cells are regulated in the actual embryo, this knowledge will help in the future to treat patients diagnosed with Parkinson or diabetes or various types of blindness and other diseases.

In case the experiment succeeds, the modified embryos could be embedded into a woman's uterus and allowed them to grow normally. On the other hand, this is really controversial and a subject of international debate. The reports said that "gene-editing" could allow parents to choose the traits such as eye color, hair, and skin or abilities such as strength and intellect.

Meanwhile, Marcy Darnovsky, the head of Center for Genetics & Society said that the production of genetically modified human embryos is actually quite dangerous. He explained that when you're modifying the genes of human embryos, that means you're changing the genes of every cell in the bodies of every offspring, every future generation of that human being. He further explained that producing genetically modified babies would likely make those babies biologically superior. He emphasized that the human realm will be a world of genetic have and have-nots that could lead to all types of social disasters. He concluded that this is the not the world he wants to live in.


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