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Medicine Science

Chinese Researchers Correct Genetic Mutation In Embryos Using Base Editing (bbc.com) 35

dryriver writes: Chinese researchers have taken tissue from a beta-thallasemia patient, created cloned embryos from that patient's cells, and used a genetic editing technique known as Base Editing to correct the gene mutation that causes beta-thallasemia. The embryos were not implanted in a womb, so no actual babies were created during the procedure. The BBC reports: "Precise 'chemical surgery' has been performed on human embryos to remove disease in a world first, Chinese researchers have told the BBC. The team at Sun Yat-sen University used a technique called base editing to correct a single error out of the three billion 'letters' of our genetic code. They altered lab-made embryos to remove the disease beta-thalassemia. The embryos were not implanted. The team says the approach may one day treat a range of inherited diseases. Base editing alters the fundamental building blocks of DNA: the four bases adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine. Base editing works on the DNA bases themselves to convert one into another. Prof David Liu, who pioneered base editing at Harvard University, describes the approach as 'chemical surgery.' He says the technique is more efficient and has fewer unwanted side-effects than Crispr. He told the BBC: 'About two-thirds of known human genetic variants associated with disease are point mutations. So base editing has the potential to directly correct, or reproduce for research purposes, many pathogenic [mutations].'"
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Chinese Researchers Correct Genetic Mutation In Embryos Using Base Editing

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  • by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Thursday September 28, 2017 @10:15PM (#55273913)

    Which base? base ten? base sixteen?

    All your base are belong to us

  • will not wait on genetic experiments. once upon a time, there was a TV show about gene wars.
  • by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Thursday September 28, 2017 @10:43PM (#55274017)
    I hope this turns out to be successful as it seems like preventing several types of diseases or conditions from manifesting would be preferable to treatment after the fact, both in terms of patient outcomes as well as cost once the technology becomes more developed.

    I also wonder if we'll eventually see this turn into a Gattaca type scenario where we're not just using this for deleterious genetic conditions, but also for intelligence, personality, or other traits. There have been some people that worry about a future where automation and improvements in AI leaves a large part of the population incapable of useful economic contributions, but I wonder if this won't result in a future where no one would be born incapable simply because they can be generically altered to have better outcomes.
    • but also for intelligence, personality, or other traits.

      Why would that be a bad thing? Is there some benefit to having plenty of stupid ugly people?

      If the technology is mature and reliable, and someone wants to boost their child's IQ to 120, and edit their genes so they don't get severe acne, or an asymmetrical face, or a predisposition to depression, then I don't see any reason they shouldn't be allowed to do it.

      • Stupidity is not absolute, it is possible that by making someone smrt enough in some fields you are reducing his intelligence in others. Regarding ugliness, I think that tons of artists and engineers and businessmen got into their fields only to compensate for ugliness.

        • it is possible that by making someone smrt enough in some fields you are reducing his intelligence in others.

          There is plenty of evidence that this is not true. There are many, many examples of great scientists that were also great artists, musicians, and novelists.

          IQ and aptitude tests generally show a fairly strong correlation (about 0.5) between different areas of intelligence and ability. People that are good at math and logic, tend to also have strong vocabularies, reading comprehension, etc.

    • I hope this turns out to be successful as it seems like preventing several types of diseases or conditions from manifesting would be preferable to treatment after the fact, both in terms of patient outcomes as well as cost once the technology becomes more developed. I also wonder if we'll eventually see this turn into a Gattaca type scenario where we're not just using this for deleterious genetic conditions, but also for intelligence, personality, or other traits. There have been some people that worry about a future where automation and improvements in AI leaves a large part of the population incapable of useful economic contributions, but I wonder if this won't result in a future where no one would be born incapable simply because they can be generically altered to have better outcomes.

      There will always be 'incapability' as you call it because in a world where everything belongs to 1% of the population, another 10% of the population are employed and have means because they are the privileged clients/minions of the 1%, and the remaining 89% are left to vegetate away on a UDI that is barely enough for them to subsist, just generous enough for them not to stage a violent spontaneous (and hard to predict) French/Russian style revolution and where surveillance is everywhere so that any sign of

  • There will be treatments like this. The USA needs to stop refusing to do the basic research.

  • by locater16 ( 2326718 ) on Thursday September 28, 2017 @11:45PM (#55274211)
    Of course, 2 months ago the same feat was published in Nature from a doctor in Oregon. https://www.nature.com/news/cr... [nature.com]
  • I wonder who's servers they hacked into in the US to figure out how to do this.

"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990

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