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U.K. First To Approve Gene-Editing Of Human Embryos For Curing Diseases

Update Date: Feb 02, 2016 11:41 AM EST

Becoming the world's first country to approve of gene editing, U.K.'s fertility regulatory body gave a sanction to genetically modify human embryos.

Research to carry out the DNA-editing procedure will start at the Francis Crick Institute in London, says BBC News. In the beginning, there will be experiments aiming to understand the early forms of life by a team, led by Dr. Kathy Niakan, a biologist.

Soon, the team will cut off parts of the DNA that prevent the embryo from developing properly. It will not be permitted to live beyond 14 days and it is not legal to let it grow in a woman's womb.

The intention is to find cures for inherited diseases like muscular dystrophy and HIV, according to Fox News.While one section fears that it might lead to genetically modified babies, the public is also worried that the DNA, thought to be the blueprint containing the manual for growth and development of the human body might get altered.

"I promise you she has no intention of the embryos ever being put back into a woman for development," Robin Lovell-Badge, group leader at the Crick Institute. "The point is to understand things about basic human biology. We know lots about how the early mouse embryo develops in terms of how various cell lineages give rise to the embryo or to [other] tissue that make up the placenta. But we know very little about how this happens in the human embryo."

Britain is the first to give legal sanction to gene-editing, though Chinese scientists claim that they have changed the DNA of many embryos last year to correct blood disorder. The U.S., though, has a federal law forbidding the funding for research using human embryo.

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