Though granted this permission, scientists are however not authorized to implant those embryos on females. They are also not allowed to research for more than fourteen days. The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is a regulation board that controls all researches and activities associated with Human embryo. We are now peacefully expecting to get the very first genetically modified embryo in Britain within the coming few months. This was after a stem cell scientist, Kathy Niakan was granted that permission from HFEA. Niakan is scientist from Francis Crick Institute based in London. She was given an okay to perform genome editing on human embryos.
The aim of this research is to find the genes essential in the early stages of human fertilization. Although this green light was accepted enthusiastically by British scientist and Francis Crick Institute, it was greatly objected by others concerned who feel like modification done on human embryo genome, is completely against the ethics and human integrity. Paul Nurse, who is the director of the institute explain how he was delighted after HFEA approved Niakan’s application. Dr. Niakan suggested that research on embryo is important and will facilitate our understanding on how the embryo genetically develops. From this information, we can succinctly understand In vitro Fertilization (IVF). For clear investigation, it will require that keen research is done on the early embryological development between the first and the seventh day.
The entire research project, will use embryos donated by voluntary couples. The embryos will then undergo IVF treatment after which observation will be made to see how the cell develops from single cell up to about 250 cells. This research will enable scientists to understand why some mothers do lose their children shortly after conceiving. From this, better treatment can be developed to help prevent miscarriages in future.
Niakan intends to use an advanced technique known as Crispr-Cas9 while doing genome editing. This technique applies the principal of switching the genes on and off. She will then observe the impacts these modifications will make on the cells that will proceed to form the placenta.
Crispr-Cas9, is a technique that was developed three year ago and has greatly managed to revolutionize the biomedical research field. Scientists feel that if this knowledge is used properly, it can help in the treatment of genetic diseases and disorders by correcting faulty gene at an early stage.
Prof Robin, a group leader at Francis Crick Institute explained the necessity to understand how the different cell types get specialized at this initial stage of human embryological development before implantation on the uterus. He said that the stalwartness of this technique will be measured to determine its efficiency and effectiveness as far as gene editing is concerned. He also said it is an opportunity to see whether gene editing can correct future genetic disorders.
From what the director of Human Genetic Alerts insinuated, it appears like these scientists are up to something bigger. He, Dr. David King said that the research will allow scientists refine the techniques necessary for creating GM babies. This research targets a great advancement in eugenics.