Scientists in Britain have been given approval to modify human embryos for research purposes, and allow scientists to understand the development of an embryo in its first seven days.
The British government’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) on Monday, Febuary 1st, said it gave permission to a team headed by biologist Kathy Niakan from the Francis Crick Institute in London subject to approval by a research ethics committee.
The team is to use the genome-editing technique CRISPR–Cas9 in healthy human embryos.
This signifies that the approval is the world’s first endorsement of such research by a national regulatory authority.
The Francis Crick Institute said it wants to use the research, “to understand the genes human embryos need to develop successfully.”
The institutes Director, Paul Nurse said that Dr Niakan’s proposed research is important for understanding how a healthy human embryo develops and also enhance the understanding of IVF success rates, by looking at the very earliest stage of human development (one to seven days).