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CRISPR Editing of Human Embryos Approved in the U.K.

Preserving the distinction between research purposes and clinical applications, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), a U.K. regulatory body, has approved the use of CRISPR gene editing on human embryos. The HFEA indicated that its approval was specific to an application tendered by researchers at the Francis Crick Institute, who could begin their work “within the next few months,” provided they also secure the approval of a local ethics body.

The Crick’s research, which will be led by Kathy Niakan, Ph.D., is aimed at understanding the genes human embryos need to develop successfully. Details of the prop
osed work appeared in September 2015, when the Crick researchers submitted their application to the HFEA.

"To provide further fundamental insights into early human development, we are proposing to test the function of genes using gene editing and transfection approaches that are currently permitted under the HFE Act 2008,” said Dr. Niakan at the time. “We also…
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Neuroscientists decode the brain activity of the worm

Head of a roundworm whose nerve cells have been genetically modified to glow under the microscope. Credit: Image courtesy of Research Institute of Molecular Pathology
Manuel Zimmer and his team at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) present new findings on the brain activity of the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans. The scientists were able to show that brain cells (neurons), organized in a brain-wide network, albeit exerting different functions, coordinate with each other in a collective manner. They could also directly link these coordinated activities in the worm's brain to the processes that generate behavior. The results of the study are presented in the current issue of the journal Cell.

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Deep-sea bacteria could help neutralize greenhouse gas. Credit: Image courtesy of University of Florida
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