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Now a team led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health and Science University is about to publish details of a bigger study based on editing "many tens" of embryos.

It could act as a golden bullet for diseases like cancer, HIV and genetic conditions such as Huntington's disease.

A team of USA researchers for the first time ever edited human embryo DNA, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Tech Review revealed Wednesday.

The scientists reportedly used a technique called CRISPR, which allows sections of DNA to be altered or replaced.

While the embryos were not allowed to be developed for more than a few days, the researchers ultimately proved that they could be efficiently edited in the attempt to correct genetic disorders. They said although basic and preclinical research should be allowed, edited human embryos should not be used to establish a pregnancy.

But many are opposed to these types of experiments, including religious, civil society and biotech groups.

The US intelligence community past year labelled CRISPR a potential 'weapon of mass destruction'.

Scientists in China were the first to carry out gene editing on human embryos in 2015, although with mixed results, the British journal Nature reported.

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The topic of editing human DNA is one that has led to heated debate within the scientific, research, and medical communities for some time now. This occurs when genome editing does not take place until after the DNA of a fertilised egg has begun to divide, meaning only some cells in the resulting embryo have the desired change, and any resulting children might still develop the disease that was supposed to be prevented.

According to the Technology Review, past efforts by USA scientists to use CRISPR have been inconsistent and resulted in "editing errors" that gave weight to arguments the technique "would be an unsafe way to create a person". What we've found out, however, is that it's possible to use CRISPR to edit embryos without causing an error called "mosaicism", Engadget said. Embryos at this stages are tiny clumps of cells invisible to the naked eye. The Tech Review could not determine which disease genes researchers chose for editing.

But Mitalipov's research, if it passes peer review, would be a significant step for American scientists.

A scientist who is familiar with the project but chose to remain anonymous said: "It is proof of principle that it can work".

That concept is similar to one tested in mice by Tony Perry of Bath University.

By now, most of us know what CRISPR gene editing is. In 2007, he unveiled the world's first cloned monkeys. He created the first cloned monkeys in 2007 and in 2013 created the first human embryonic stem cells through cloning. Researchers can even modify genetic code in living plants and animals. "Genome editing to enhance traits or abilities beyond ordinary health raises concerns about whether the benefits can outweigh the risks, and about fairness if available only to some people", said Alta Charo, co-chair of the NAS's study committee and professor of law and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Currently, any effort to turn an edited human embryo into a baby in the United States is banned by Congress.


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