With editing embryos the general consensus has been puzzled,but a major step forward was taken with CRISPR CAS9 technology. For the first time, scientists were able edit embryos and successfully remove the DNA that cause the heart disease hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This condition, which is known to affect one in every 500, can be harmful and ultimately lead to death by causing the heart to stop beating. CRISPR is very much a diamond with rough edges, however its ease of use and cheap cost has made it a promising technology, it has been used previously experimentally in monkey embryos with success. The future application of this technology is very important as it could help remove genetic disorders caused by faulty DNA as such hypertrophic cardiomyopathy was the disease focused on by the Oregon Health and Science University, the Salk Institute and the Institute for Basic Science in South Korea. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is caused by an error in a single gene and there is a 50% chance of the disease being passed onto the offspring.
The scientists used sperm from a patient who had the heart condition and his sperm was injected into healthy donated eggs,the process of the repair was mainly carried out during the conception phase. The results showed that 72% of the embryos were free of disease-causing mutations. These results were an improvement, in 2015 the technology was used by scientists in China to correct DNA that lead to the blood disorder hemophilia, their results showed that not all the cells had been corrected and that the embryo had a mix of healthy and diseased cells. Thus the results of this latest trial shows promise.
The future of this technology is still limited, the safety concerns on the embryo themselves is a major issue, furthermore the issue of designer babies is an ethical and moral issue to many people. The technology also currently relies on another healthy version of the gene via the unaffected mother/father and there is noise wanting CRISPR to work by inserting an engineered piece of DNA rather than remove the faulty DNA. It can still be said that more research on the safety of this technology and what the effects of editing the embryos are, whilst it is a flawed technology, there is room for improvement.