CRISPR-Cas9 technology has recently been implemented in Britain as the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority granted its first license for the genetic modification of human embryos. These genetically modified embryos take part in the research of infertility, focusing on the source of miscarriages.
Dr. Kathy Niakan of the Francis Crick Institute plans to modify embryos utilizing the CRISPR-Cas9 system in order to find key genes contributing to infertility and miscarriages during the first few days of fertilization. During the first few days of fertilization, embryos develop a coating of cells of which later differentiate into the placenta. The modified embryos are donated from couples undergoing In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) of whom no longer need them, and thus would have been destroyed regardless. The modified embryos are destroyed in 14 days and are only utilized for basic research. Figure 1 describes the method of how the CRISPR-Cas9 system edits a gene.
Bruce Whitelaw, a professor of animal biotechnology at the University of Edinburgh, stated that the project should be able to assist infertile couples and reduce the anguish of miscarriage. Despite the ethical dilemma embryo modification brings, the promise of a better understanding of infertility and miscarriages in order to bring about more successful pregnancies in the future is only an example how CRISPR-Cas9 technology has impacted the current industry.
(Read more of this topic here: "Embryo Gene Editing Gets Okay in Britain")