Britain Approves License for Gene Modification

Britain’s fertility regulator has granted its first license for the genetic modification of human embryos for research into the causes of infertility and miscarriages.

The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority said Monday, “Our license committee has approved an application from Dr. Kathy Niakan of the Francis Crick Institute to renew her laboratory’s research license to include gene editing of embryos.” 

The embryos will not become children. 

Some researchers welcomed the news. University of Edinburgh professor of animal biotechnology Bruce Whitelaw told the Science Media Center the research should “assist infertile couples and reduce the anguish of miscarriage.” 

But critics say the research likely raises too many ethical questions and could eventually result in genetically modified human babies. 

Chinese researchers experimented with modifying genes in human embryos last year, but their experiment failed.

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