British Scientists Get Permission to Genetically Modify Human Embryos for Research

British Scientists Get Permission to Genetically Modify Human Embryos for Research

The scientists plan to use genetic engineering techniques to study infertility

 embryo

A human embryo at the four-cell stage. (Science Photo Library/Corbis)

By Danny Lewis

smithsonian.com February 1, 2016

Earlier today, regulators from the United Kingdom’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) approved an application by researchers at London’s Francis Crick Institute to use a new and powerful gene altering tool called CRISPR-Cas9 in human embryos for fertility research. It’s the first time a regulatory agency has approved genetic modification in human embryos.

According to the HFEA’s decision, researchers led by Kathy Niakan, a developmental biologist at the Crick Institute, will be allowed to genetically modify human embryos for a study on how they develop during the first few days after fertilization. Read more.