Precise chemical surgery has been performed on embryos by a Chinese team at the Sun Yat-sen University to alter their DNA and remove diseases. They were able to alter a single error out of three billion features of our genetic code. They did this on lab-made embryos, which have not been implanted. This medical procedure my one day treat a series of inherited diseases or even prevent babies from being born with a disease.
The approach is called base-editing, which alters the fundamental building blocks of our DNA. They are known as A,G,C and T (English = A,G,C and U). All our information is encoded in combinations of these four bases. Base-editing takes gene-editing a step further as it is more efficient and has fewer side effects. Prof. David Liu pioneered the chemical surgery at Harvard University.
However, the procedure sparked an ethical debate about what is acceptable and what is not in efforts to prevent diseases. It will be a while until this new approach will be used clinically. Before that there needs to be far more debate and stricter rules for regulation and oversight. A long-term follow-up is also important to detect any possible negative effect.
surgery (ˈsɜ:ʤəri) – die Operation
to alter (ˈɔ:ltəʳ) – etw ändern
to remove (rɪˈmu:v) – etw entfernen
disease (dɪˈzi:z) – die Krankheit, das Leiden
feature (ˈfi:tʃəʳ) – das Merkmal, das Charakteristikum
to treat (tri:t) – (eine Krankheit) behandeln
to inherit (ɪnˈherɪt) – etw erben, übernehmen
to prevent (prɪˈvent) – etw verhindern, vorbeugen
approach (əˈprəʊtʃ) – hier: der Ansatz, die Herangehensweise
to encode (ɪnˈkəʊd) – etw kodieren, verschlüsseln
to pioneer (ˌpaɪəˈnɪəʳ) – den Weg für etw bereiten
to spark (spɑ:k) – etw entfachen
ethical (ˈeθɪkəl) – ehtisch
acceptable (əkˈseptəbl̩) – akzeptabel, annehmbar
oversight (ˈəʊvəʳsaɪt) – die Aufsicht, Beaufsichtigung
to detect (dɪˈtekt) – etw entdecken, feststellen