Oregon Health and Science University scientists changed the DNA of single-celled human embryos using a gene-editing technique called CRISPR, according to anonymous people familiar with the procedures.
None of the embryos were allowed to develop for more than a few days, and researchers claim they never had intention of implanting them into a womb.
Those who oppose the work worry that it could lead to an era of "designer babies", modified to fit a preconceived ideal, while supporters suggest it's a miraculous discovery that could one day eliminate many childhood and lifelong diseases.
"The results of this study will be published soon in a scientific journal".
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Process changed DNA of large number of one-cell embryos with the controversial gene-editing technique CRISPR.
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.
Ma Hong, a staff scientist at Mitalipov's lab, told Xinhua on Thursday that their paper is about to be published and that, for the moment, she can not reveal any information about the research.
Last year, Britain said some of its scientists could edit embryo genes to better understand human development. It went beyond previous experiments using CRISPR to alter the DNA of human embryos, all of which were conducted in China, in that it edited the genomes of many more embryos and targeted a gene associated with a significant human disease.
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Some critics say germline experiments could open the floodgates to a fearless new world of "designer babies" engineered with genetic enhancements-a prospect bitterly opposed by a range of religious organizations, civil society groups, and biotech companies.
However, the work was later reviewed by researchers at another institution and the findings were brought into question. With gene editing, these so-called "germline" changes are permanent and would be passed down to any offspring.
Dr. Robert C. Green, a medical geneticist at Harvard Medical School, said the prospect of editing embryos to avoid disease "is inevitable and exciting", and that "with proper controls in place, it's going to lead to huge advances in human health".
Human embryos have been edited with CRISPR before, only in China. 'They significantly reduced mosaicism. "I don't think it's the start of clinical trials yet, but it does take it further than anyone has before", a scientist familiar with the project was quoted as saying.
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The report also offered qualified support for the use of CRISPR for making gene-edited babies, but only if it were deployed for the elimination of serious diseases.