Base Editing: New CRISPR technique could improve ability to safely edit human embryos

| | August 23, 2018
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A new CRISPR technique could prevent humans from passing on a potentially life-threatening disorder, according to Chinese researchers.

An estimated 1 in 5,000 people across the globe suffers from Marfan Syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue.

If a person has Marfan Syndrome, there’s a 50 percent chance their child will too. But according to a new study published in Molecular Therapy, CRISPR might be able to improve those odds.

Typically, CRISPR works a lot like a word processor’s cut and paste function; a researcher can use the tool to target a specific spot in an organism’s genetic code, cut the DNA strands, and either insert a new gene into the gap or let the strands repair themselves.

Related article:  Viewpoint: Arguments against crop gene editing rely on 'cherry-picking half-truths'

Unfortunately, past research has shown that these cuts to both strands of DNA can produce unwanted edits and potentially even cause cancer.

The Chinese researchers … tried something called “base editing,”… . With base editing, the CRISPR system simply changes one DNA letter to another (for example, swapping an A for a G).

According to the study, the researchers were able to correct the mutation that causes Marfan Syndrome in 18 viable human embryos — embryos created by joining a sperm and an egg that doctors could conceivably implant into a person to induce pregnancy.

Read full, original post: A New CRISPR Technique Let Researchers Repair a Genetic Mutation in Viable Human Embryos

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