Results published in Protein & Cell, an open access journal, confirm rumors that Chinese scientists have edited genomes of human embryos, a contentious effort and a first worldwide.
Their efforts have been covered in an article titled "Chinese scientists genetically modify human embryos," in the April 22 issue of the journal Nature.
Junjiu Huang, PhD, gene-function researcher, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, led the research team, which sought to allay concerns about their work by noting they used ‘nonviable' embryos from fertility clinics-which could not culminate in a live birth.
Employing CRISPR/Cas9, a gene-editing technique, the Chinese researchers tried to alter a gene that causes a blood disorder that can be deadly.
The piece in Nature discusses the paper from Huang's team, and the debate surrounding human-embryo editing. It notes that Huang says his team's paper was rejected by the journals Nature and Science, in part because of ethical objections.
A source noted that Huang's team is not the only one in China working on gene editing in human embryos.