Inside a gene editing lab: Editing life’s mutations and pondering the ethical consequences

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Human eggs are the key starting point for the groundbreaking experiments underway in this lab. It’s run by Shoukhrat Mitalipov, a biologist who’s been on the cutting edge of embryonic genetic research for decades.

Mitalipov and his international team electrified the world this summer when the group announced it had successfully — and seemingly safely — figured out how to efficiently edit the DNA in human embryos.

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Shoukhrat Mitalipov points to an image of an edited embryo inside an incubator at the Center for Embryonic Cell and Gene Therapy in Portland, Ore.
via Rob Stein/NPR

…they had corrected a mutation that causes a potentially fatal heart condition. The hope is this landmark step could someday help prevent thousands of genetic diseases that have plagued families for generations.

Critics, however, pounced on the news. They fear editing DNA in human embryos is unsafe, unnecessary and could open the door to “designer babies” and possibly someday to genetically enhanced people who are considered superior by society.

If future experiments confirm the results and show that the technique also works for other mutations, Mitalipov thinks the process could wipe out many diseases that have plagued families for generations, though he cautions that any practical application is still easily a decade or more away.

While the results seem promising so far, there are still many questions. Some scientists remain skeptical that Mitalipov has really done what he says he’s done.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Inside The Lab Where Scientists Are Editing DNA In Human Embryos

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