DNA surgery on embryos removes disease

Precise "chemical surgery" has been performed on human embryos to remove disease in a world first, Chinese researchers have reported. 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. They are commonly known by their respective letters, A, C, G and T. All the instructions for building and running the h

UK scientists edit DNA of human embryos

The blueprint for life - DNA - has been altered in human embryos for the first time in the UK. The team at the Francis Crick Institute are unravelling the mysteries of the earliest moments of life. Understanding what happens after a sperm fertilizes an egg could lead to ways of improving IVF or explain why some women miscarry. The embryos were modified shortly after fertilization and allowed to develop for seven days. Image: The genetic machinery needed to modify the DNA is injected into the embryo The researchers are exploring one of the most astounding of transformations. We have all journeyed from a single fertilized egg to a human being - built from myriad different tissues ranging from

Hang Out With Happy People — It Might Be Contagious

You can actually catch a good mood or a bad mood from your friends, according to a recent study in the journal Royal Society Open Science. But that shouldn’t stop you from hanging out with pals who are down in the dumps, say the study authors: Thankfully, the effect isn’t large enough to push you into depression. The new study adds to a growing body of research suggesting that happiness and sadness—as well as lifestyle and behavioral factors like smoking, drinking, obesity, fitness habits and even the ability to concentrate—can spread across social networks, both online and in real life. But while many previous studies have only looked at friendship data at one point in time, this is one of

Pregnant moms who take folic acid cut autism risk from pesticides

Children whose mothers took folic acid supplements early in their pregnancies were less likely to develop autism, even when the pregnant moms were exposed to pesticides linked to the neurodevelopmental disorder, a new study found. Mothers who were exposed to household or agricultural pesticides just before and during their pregnancies but who took high-dose folic acid cut in half the risk of their children developing autism when compared to women who received low doses of the vitamin, lead author Rebecca Schmidt said in a phone interview. “If there’s a chance you might get pregnant, . . . take your folic acid and try to avoid unnecessary pesticides,” said Schmidt, an epidemiologist and profe

A New Way to Reproduce

Scientists are trying to manufacture eggs and sperm in the laboratory. Will it end reproduction as we know it? Let’s call him B.D., because that’s what his wife does on her infertility blog, Shooting Blanks. Several years ago, the 36-year-old learned he was azoospermatic. It means his body makes no sperm at all. During a recent phone interview, I could hear his wife in the background. She is 35 and facing what she describes as a terrifying countdown toward a life with no children. “Being childless can’t be my destiny, it just can’t be,” she wrote on her blog. So far, B.D.’s case of infertility has proved untreatable, despite years of pills, vitamins, and a major surgery. But he may still hav

Prospect of Synthetic Embryos Sparks New Bioethics Debate

An “embryoid” created from stem cells shares key features with a real human embryo, like an amniotic sac, but lacks other elements. Yue Shao had never seen anything quite like it. Two years ago, Shao, a mechanical engineer with a flair for biology, was working with embryonic stem cells, the kind derived from human embryos able to form any cell type. As he experimented with ways of getting cells to form more organized three-dimensional structures by growing them in scaffolds of soft gel, he was looking for signs of primitive neural tissue. What drew his attention was that the cells seemed to change much faster than expected—they arranged themselves rapidly over a few days into a lopsided cir

Eight children have been born after uterus transplants

Eight children born after uterus transplants is the culmination of 18 years of research at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. From September 2014 to 2017, eight children have been born to mothers who had fertilized eggs returned after undergoing a uterus transplant. The very first attempt at a uterine transplant with a living donor was conducted in 2000 in Saudi Arabia. The attempt was unsuccessful and the transplant had to be removed shortly after surgery. In 2011, a transplant was conducted in Turkey with a uterus from a brain-dead donor resulting in no successful pregnancies in the recipient. The Sahlgrenska Academy conducted operations 2-11 in the world with

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