Gene editing: Gateway to Promised Land, or key to Pandora’s box?

(RNS) — News that scientists for the first time successfully edited genes in human embryos created a stir this week.

In the experiment, outlined in a paper in the journal Nature published Wednesday (Aug. 2), scientists essentially snipped a mutant gene known to cause a heart condition that can lead to sudden death.

The work is controversial because it showed that scientists could manipulate life in its earliest stages and that those changes would then be inherited by future generations, if the embryo were allowed to grow into a baby. (The embryo in question was destroyed.)

It also raised the tantalizing promise that the baby would be disease-free and would not transmit the disease to his or her descendants.

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