Efforts to develop a working gene therapy for certain inherited diseases have reached a milestone with a new method for altering a human egg cell.If the technique, which was unveiled by Oregon Health & Science University and involves transplanting mitochondrial DNA, is ever approved for use in patients, a child's genetic makeup could be altered to cure certain genetic diseases before the baby is even born. Even so, the researchers acknowledged that realistically the treatment wouldn't likely be approved for testing in humans for a while.The gene-tweaking technique, which is detailed online today (Oct. 24) in the journal Nature, is designed to treat diseases caused by genetic mutations in the cells' energy-making structures called mitochondria, said lead researcher Shoukhrat Mitalipov of OHSU School of Medicine.Mitochondrial diseases can lead to diabetes, degeneration of nerves, or blindness, so the diseases themselves are often mistaken for other problems. Once the disease is … [Read more...] about Could Genetic Diseases Be Cured in the Womb?
They look like ordinary baby rhesus macaques, but Hex, Roku and Chimero are the world's first chimeric monkeys, each with cells from the genomes of as many as six rhesus monkeys.Until now research on so-called chimeric animals, or those that have cells with different genomes, has been limited to mice; a recent procedure produced mice using cells from two dads.The researchers turned to monkeys for more insight into the capabilities of embryonic stem cells. Most experiments on stem cell therapies are based on mice, and the researchers wanted to understand whether primate embryonic stem cells respond the same way as those of mice do.To create the chimeric monkeys, researchers essentially glued together cells from individual rhesus monkey embryos and then implanting these mixed embryos into mama monkeys.The key was mixing cells from very early-stage embryos, or blastocysts, that consisted of just two to four cells – each one of the cells still totipotent, capable of transforming into … [Read more...] about Baby Monkeys With 6 Genomes Are Scientific First
Editor's Note: This story was updated on Aug. 2 at 5:00 p.m. E.T.A group of scientists in Oregon has successfully modified the genes of embryos using CRISPR, a cut-and-paste gene-editing tool, in order to correct a genetic mutation known to cause a type of heart defect.The experiments, which were described today (Aug. 2) in the journal Nature, were conducted by biologist Shoukhrat Mitalipov and colleagues at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Mitalipov conducted the experiments on dozens of single-celled embryos, which were discarded before they could progress very far in development, MIT Technology Review reported last week when the results were initially leaked. This is the first time that scientists in the United States have used this approach to edit the genes of embryos. Cut and replaceThe CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing system is a simple "cut and replace" method for editing precise spots on the genome. CRISPRS are long stretches of DNA that are recognized by … [Read more...] about Scientists Erase Heart Disease Defect in Human Embryos