According to Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), alteration of genes in a human embryo has been used for the first time in the United States. The research led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov, head of OHSU's Center for Embryonic Cell and Gene Therapy has said the whole process involves a technology known as CRISPR that has opened up a new gate in genetic medicine because of its ability to modify genes swiftly and efficiently.
CRISPR works as a type of molecular scissors that can selectively trim away unwanted parts of the genome, and replace it with new stretches of DNA.Scientists in China have published identical studies with mixed result.
The OHSU research is believed to broken new ground both in the number of embryos experimented upon and by demonstrating it is possible to safely and efficiently.
Some countries precluded the practice as it could be used to create so-called designer babies.
According to OHSU spokesperson Eric Robinson, the result of the peer-reviewed study are expected to be published soon in a scientific journal.
In December 2015, scientists and ethicists at an international meeting held at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in Washington said it would be "irresponsible" to use gene editing technology in human embryos for therapeutic purposes, such as to correct genetic diseases, until safety and efficacy issues are resolved.
But earlier this year, NAS and the National Academy of Medicine said scientific advances make gene editing in human reproductive cells "a realistic possibility that deserves serious consideration."
(Inputs from Reuters)