Caution urged on GMO human embryos

A GENETIC researcher has warned efforts to genetically modify human embryos should proceed with "extreme caution".

The warning from Dr Hannah Brown at the University of Adelaide's Robinson Research Institute follows a major breakthrough in genetic research.

A paper published in Protein and Cell journal showed Chinese researchers had genetically modified human embryos for the first time, attempting to modify a gene responsible for a fatal blood disorder.

Dr Brown, who was not involved in the project, said the research created "great excitement", modifying embryos, rather than human cells for the first time.

But she said it was highly controversial and such research was "highly restricted in Australia", and should go ahead only with extreme caution.

"Perhaps the most concerning part of the research is the report of a large number of 'off-target' effects, meaning that their cut-and-paste editing occurred in the wrong place in the DNA, which was completely out of their control," she said.

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