June 1, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

designer babies

7 min read

It’s germline, heritable human CRISPR time, right? Wrong. But the particularly enthusiastic supporters of heritable human CRISPR often cite hypothetical benefits in glowing terms, but either don’t mention risks or strongly downplay them. These fans also tend to leave alternative, proven and safe technologies such as preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) out of the discussion or only mention them as an afterthought. In reality, the vast majority of anything that CRISPR could hypothetically achieve heritably in human reproduction can be done better, more simply, and …Read More

8 min read

The debate over whether the main conclusions of the Nature paper on human embryo CRISPR led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov’s lab at Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) are correct remains unresolved. Note that Nature just added an editorial alert just above the references section to their paper: “Updated online 02 October 2017. Editorial Note: Readers are alerted that some of the conclusions of this paper are subject to critiques that are being considered by editors. Some of these critiques have been publicly deposited in preprint form. A further …Read More

3 min read

Is President Donald Trump a fan of eugenics? He seems to believe that he comes from greatly superior genetic stock. He hasn’t said much of anything about CRISPR ‘gene editing’ technology that can readily alter the genetic code of cells of nearly any organism, including humans, but Trump has a fascination with the concept of “good genes” that sounds eerily similar to eugenics and could link together CRISPR & Eugenics. If you watch the video above, you’ll see many striking quotes from Trump on his …Read More

5 min read

Scientist make knockout human embryos with CRISPR? Today we see a new Nature paper (Fogarty, et al.) on CRISPR “gene editing” of human embryos, this time from the UK from Kathy Niakan’s group. Niakan got UK permission about 18 months ago to CRISPR healthy human embryos so they’ve been hard at work since. Because Fredrik Lanner of Sweden (see my interview here) also has governmental permission to CRISPR healthy human embryos, I’m guessing we’ll see a paper from his lab soon too. If I …Read More

5 min read

We can be confident that human genetic modification via CRISPR’ing of embryos soon will be safe and effective after that new exciting Mitalipov team paper, right? Wrong. The reality is far more complicated and interesting on the tech side. In a nutshell, I see the paper as a significant scientific, but not necessarily medical advance. The media coverage overall has painted too rosy and simplistic a picture of the Mitalipov paper. Setting aside tough bioethical and societal issues regarding human genetic modification for the …Read More

4 min read

The FDA sent a stern letter today to Dr. John Zhang, PhD, MD, the physician who last year created a genetically modified human embryo in the U.S. and then exported it to Mexico where he self-reported creating a genetically modified baby boy. While the genetically modified baby created in Mexico was reportedly seemingly OK, it’s not clear what kind of health issues he might face in the future and I haven’t seen much data on him. I believe his parents subsequently declined to have him participate …Read More