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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…