January 25, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

human genetic modification

3 min read

Something called, “The International Commission on the Clinical Use of Human Germline Genome Editing” has issued a new report on heritable human genome editing (HHGE). The Commission was convened by the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the U.K.’s Royal Society. This post is my initial take on the summary of the lengthy report. I hope to have time to read the full report in coming weeks and it’s possible some new perspectives may emerge. Here is my thinking as …Read More

6 min read

By Guillaume Levrier Human germline editing has been done before. It will be done again in the future, as it is relatively easy to perform. No mechanism with the de facto ability to prevent it from being organized has yet been designed, let alone implemented. But the fact that germline editing has, can, and will happen again does not deprive anyone of their right to have an opinion on this capacity. The CRISPR Consensus symposium (see video below) set up at the Innovative Genomics Institutes …Read More

4 min read

Three national academy leaders have a new opinion piece in Science on what the community needs to do next regarding human germline editing now that we are most likely in the CRISPR babies era. Some of us have been wondering what the Academies and their empowered experts really think about this issue and what they are saying outside the public domain. Do some of them disagree with each other? There have been mixed messages. The new piece, entitled, Wake-up call from Hong Kong, gets a …Read More

4 min read

Did Chinese researcher He Jiankui really CRISPR gene edit the CCR5 gene in two embryos producing twin baby girls? In my opinion the answer is “no”, but probably not for the reason you might think at first. He proclaims gene edits He claimed he had made twin baby girls with “gene edits”, which I feel is unethical overall and risky to those babies. He’s announcement also may have been intentionally timed to occur right before an international meeting on human gene (or genome) editing last week …Read More

4 min read

Remember that Shoukhrat Mitalipov lab paper on the use of CRISPR in human embryos? It’s back in the news. One of the biggest stories of 2017 centered on a Nature paper (Ma, et al., see my quick, initial review shortly after it was published here) from Mitalipov’s lab claiming both efficient repair of a disease-causing mutation in human embryos via CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing and that the correction happened at the MYBPC3 gene via an unexpected mechanism using the normal maternal chromosome as a template (the …Read More

4 min read

It’s an odd confluence of events this week that (A) the Nuffield Council, an ethics think tank, gives a thumbs up in a new report to heritable human genetic modification that would probably include using CRISPR in the same week that (B) a new paper reports that CRISPR can cause unpredictable genomic damage and several other concerning reports about possible CRISPR technology side effects or challenges have come out in the last few months. Talk about bad timing. They would probably counter my intro paragraph by saying …Read More

4 min read

My first job in science was as a lab technician at UCSD School of Medicine and a big part of that job was growing cells called HUVECs or human umbilical vein endothelial cells. We isolated and grew the HUVECs from umbilical cords that we retrieved from the maternity ward of the UCSD hospital, which first entailed getting the placenta and attached umbilical cord as our starting material. Some people viewed this material as “gross”, but as a newbie scientist I was kind of in …Read More

9 min read

Human germline CRISPR raises major bioethical considerations, but what about technical issues? Setting aside the many ethical issue about the general idea of human modification itself, could this really work? Yes in theory it could, but there are some very tough technological challenges that could and likely would cause failures or unacceptable outcomes at many steps along the way. These failures or unacceptable outcomes could easily involve real, live people who could be harmed or die. It’s very different than simple in vitro research so …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

7 min read

What really happened at the DNA level in the experiments in that high-profile CRISPR of human embryos paper from a team led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov at OHSU? Is the team right that they successfully conducted CRISPR of human embryos to correct a mutant gene, as they reported in their Ma, et al. Nature paper? Or is the Egli, et al. preprint that came out later in response to the Ma paper more likely to be correct in their implied argument that something else very probably happened instead? We …Read More