Home Overview Press Room Blog Publications For Students about us
Search

British scientist can genetically modify human embryos, ethics committee says

by Lydia WillgressThe Telegraph [UK]
May 27th, 2016

Image via the NHS Research Authority

Untitled Document

A British scientist will be able to genetically modify human embryos after being given the go ahead from an ethics committee.

Dr Kathy Niakan, of the Francis Crick Institute, will begin preparatory work on the programme following the decision by the Cambridge Central Research Ethics Committee.

The committee gave the green light to the scheme after it was approved by the fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), earlier this year.  

Dr Niakan will now be allowed to use a gene editing technique on surplus embryos that have been donated by consenting patients undergoing fertility treatment.

Despite the approval, the start of research may still be months away due to the difficulties of obtaining sufficient embryos.

The controversial project is thought to mark the second time the procedure will be undertaken. Scientists in China, who carried out the first experiment but are not believed to have been approved by a regulator, were met with widespread criticism.

Dr Niakan, speaking at a briefing in central London in January, said she hoped the research would give hope to prospective patients.

“We would really like to understand the genes that are needed for an embryo to develop into a healthy baby,” she said.

“Miscarriage and infertility are extremely common but they are not very well understood. We believe that this research could improve our understanding of the very earliest stages of human life.”

Around 50 per cent of eggs do not fertilise properly and scientists are keen to discover if a faulty genetic code is to blame.

Experts believe miscarriages could be prevented and fertility could be improved if they can work out which genes are needed for healthy cell division.

Dr Niakan added: “The reason why I think this is so important is that most human embryos fail to reach the blastocyst stage. Over 50 per cent will fail so this window is absolutely critical.

“If we were to understand the genes, it could really help us improve infertility treatment and provide crucial insights into the causes of miscarriage.”

The Health Research Authority, which is one of a number of bodies who are responsible for the regulation and governance of health research, confirmed they wrote to a research applicant at the institute to advise them they had met conditions at the beginning of May. 

A spokesman added: "The application was first reviewed at a meeting of the REC on 12 February and was given a favourable opinion with conditions relating to a small, specific change to wording in the patient information sheets provided to potential study participants."

Image via Twitter



This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of biotechnology and public policy issues. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


ESPAÑOL | PORTUGUÊS | Русский

home | overview | blog | publications| about us | donate | newsletter | press room | privacy policy

CGS • 1122 University Ave, Suite 100, Berkeley, CA 94702 • • (p) 1.510.665.7760 • (F) 1.510.665.8760