With scientists a buzz, it seems that the dreams of sci-fi have become sic-fact. Apparently, papers are circulating where human embryos have been edited (but not taken to term):
“There are also suspicions that scientists have already created human embryos with edited genomes. Several researchers who do not want to be named told Nature’s news team that papers describing such work are being considered for publication.”
Source: Nature News
My suspicions of the players involved in the work or bringing it to public attention are some of the big 4 of (epi)genome editing: Feng Zhang, Jennifer Doudna, J. Keith Joung, and George Church. I think there is a good chance that George Church and army were involved somehow based on this recent interview with the MIT Technology Review.
It seems like the community doesn’t know what to think of the possibility as it came much early then most would have dreamed. The ability to alter simple Mendelian traits would have tremendous implications for inherited disease. Although, the off-target effects have been greatly improved from previous technologies, they are still there and concerning, but it may not be enough to stop some. Sure we’ve been able to create mutations before, but never with such accuracy, ease, precision, and potential for successful pregnancy with in vitro fertilization in a HUMAN. If it happens, I don’t think anyone would be able to consider the initial experimental optimization ethical.
Then again, this all just rumours and buzz with a bit conjecture. I’m quite curious to see the actual work and the levels of success achieved in the editing of embryos.