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    U.K. researcher receives permission on CRISPR genome editing in human embryos

    Developmental biologist Kathy Niakan has received permission from U.K. authorities to modify human embryos using the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology. The research will take place at the Francis Crick Institute in London and aims to provide a deeper understanding of the earliest moments of human life.
    The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which grants licenses for work with human embryos, sperm, and eggs in the United Kingdom, approved Niakan’s application at a meeting of HFEA's license committee on 14 January.
    The experiments will take place in the first seven days after fertilization. During this time we go from a fertilized egg to a structure called a blastocyst, containing 200-300 cells. The debate about the ethics of editing embryonic genomes has raged for several years. But many scientists today welcomed the HFEA's decision. Paul Nurse, the director of the Crick, said: "I am delighted that the HFEA has approved Dr. Niakan's application. Dr. Niakan's proposed research is important for understanding how a healthy human embryo develops and will enhance our understanding of IVF success rates, by looking at the very earliest stage of human development." Dr. David King, the director of Human Genetics Alert, said: "This research will allow the scientists to refine the techniques for creating GM babies, and many of the government's scientific advisers have already decided that they are in favor of allowing that”