Gene Editing of Human Embryos in UK Reveals New Fertility Clue


Published Date : Sep 22, 2017

In the UK, the research has been conducted on DNA of human embryos for the first time. The DNA has been altered and studied under this program for the first time in the world. This study is helping researchers to understand more about early stages of human development. The program has been conducted by the scientists at Francis Crick Institute, a renowned medical research center in UK. This investigation has helped scientists to identify their role of a key gene, which controls the formation of embryos during the initial period of development.

The Study to Enhance Development of Humans in Initial Stages

The comprehension about the development in this early stages could help researchers to understand why some women encounter miscarriage, gain knowledge about human development, and increase the success of in-vitro fertilization. The genomes of embryos have been manipulated by the studies in the United States to help understand and more importantly fix gene mutations to prevent inherited diseases including heart conditions. However, the studies in the UK is the first to focus on human growth and development.

CRISPR-Cas9, a gene-editing technique had been employed by the team to switch off OCT4, a gene involved in embryo development. Blocking this gene resulted in absence of protein generated by this gene, halting the development of embryo. Studies suggested that without OCT4 blastocyst cannot be formed. Blastocyst is a ball of more than 200 cells, which is formed from development of embryo. Researchers shared that they will have to confirm this function of OCT4 while carrying other tests. The technique of switching off the functioning of certain gene is expected to help scientists to understand roles of other genes and enhance the initial human development stages.