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Genetic Frontiers Repairing Embryos

Scientists successfully edited a human embryo to erase a heart condition

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A new door for science exploration opened Wednesday after the scientific journal Nature confirmed that scientists successfully edited the DNA of human embryos to correct a heritable heart condition for the first time, the Washington Post reported.

Though researchers described their lab work as very basic and preliminary, their success shouldn't be overlooked, since it's the first time gene editing on human embryos has been conducted int he United States. In interviews, the researchers acknowledged that they will continue to expand their work with the ultimate goal of correcting disease-causing genes in embryos that develop into babies.

The experiment employed the use of a laboratory tool known as CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats), which remains controversial because it involves changing genes that could be passed on to future generations. The U.S. prohibits the use of federal funds for embryo research and the Food and Drug Administration is banned from considering clinical trials involving genetic mutations that can be inherited. A report published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in February warned scientists in applying CRISPR to gene editing, but also laid out conditions by which research should continue.

The successful study abided to those recommendations.

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