It is an epoch-making day when British scientists have been given the go ahead to modify human embryos for the very first time in history.
However, the scientists have been granted permission to alter the DNA of embryos for research purpose only and it will not be allowed to be implanted in a woman.
The approval will pave the way for better understanding of the earliest stages of embryo development.
The research has got the nod from the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority.
It will be sourcing the embryos from the excess embryos donated by couples who have had in vitro fertilization treatment.
The research is spearheaded by Dr. Kathy Niakan and will be conducted at the Francis Crick Institute in London.
It has got its fair share of bouquets and brickbats. The research will be focused on the first week of the fertilized egg.
The egg grows from a single cell into 250 cells during the first week of embryonic growth.
Sarah Norcross, director of the Progress Educational Trust, added that the decision was again for level headed regulations as compared to moral panic.
It will be a significant advancement in knowledge about early embryo development and miscarriages.
The decision has also brought into force the moral debate about possible misuse of the research to make designer babies as a possibility beyond health improvements and modification of the baby’s features from eye color to intelligence.
The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, however, contend that the research permission has been granted to understand genes which will potentially help to prevent miscarriages.
Gene editing technology could one day lead to treatments for ailments like HIV or genetically inherited diseases like muscular dystrophy and sickle cell anemia.
The research will also help to increase in vitro fertilization success rates by understanding the earliest stages of embryonic development. It could also help doctors to refine fertility treatments.