• US stock market daily report (September 23, 2015, Wednesday)

    Stem cell researchers from the Francis Crick Institute in London have applied for permission to edit the genes of human embryos.

    The goal of the British Scientists, is to find out more about the earliest stages of human development and hopefully reduce the incident of miscarriage, through a series of experiments.

    Kathy Niakan, one of the stem cell scientist who made the application to the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), said she has no intention of genetically altering embryos for use in human reproduction, but aimed to deepen scientific understanding of how a healthy human embryo develops.

    Niakan said in a statement, "This knowledge may improve embryo development after in vitro fertilization (IVF) and might provide better clinical treatments for infertility." She added that any donated embryos by couples who have excess embryos during In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), would be used for research purposes only. The donated embryos would not be grown to term but used only to study the early stages of embryonic development before being destroyed.

    The debate continues from scientists worldwide regarding the potential future use of a new genetic technology gene-editing tool - CRISPR-Cas9 - which allows researchers to edit virtually any gene, including those in human embryos.

    The technique has a three year history but has become a lot cheaper and easier to use in recent months. The CRISPR/Cas9 technique works kind of like a biological 'cut and paste' tool which allows researchers to use a protein to seek out a particular gene and cut it out of the genome, replacing it with DNA of their choice. An example would be to swap a defective gene with a healthy one. Critics say it also has the potential to create "designer babies" to order since the technology can enable scientists to find, change or replace genetic defects.

    Sarah Chan at Edinburgh University's Usher Institute for Population Health Sciences and Informatics said the request for HFEA permission "should be cause for confidence, not concern". Chan said, "Genome editing research undeniably has tremendous scientific potential, and UK scientists are poised to make a world-leading contribution to this exciting field. At the same time, we should be reassured to know that this work is being carried out under a robust regulatory scheme that ensures high scientific and ethical standards."

    Contributed by Millennium Traders
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