CRISPR gene editing moved into humans in 2017 | Science News

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Year in Review

CRISPR gene editing moved into new territory in 2017

Debates about when and how to use the tool in humans take on new urgency

By
8:30am, December 13, 2017
single cell embryo

HUMAN DEBUT  In the last year, research teams have announced CRISPR gene editing in viable human embryos (single-cell embryo shown).

Scientists reported selectively altering genes in viable human embryos for the first time this year. For nearly five years, researchers have been wielding the molecular scissors known as CRISPR/Cas9 to make precise changes in animals’ DNA. But its use in human embryos has more profound implications, researchers and ethicists say.

“We can now literally change our own species,” says Mildred Solomon, a bioethicist and president of the Hastings Center, a bioethics research institute in Garrison, N.Y.

CRISPR/Cas9 is a bacterial immune system (SN: 4/15/17, p. 22) turned into a powerful gene-editing tool. First described in 2012, the editor consists of a DNA-cutting

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