It was reported last year that a scientist at the Francis Crick Institute had become the first UK-based researcher to apply for a license to use new genome editing techniques on human embryos. Kathy Niakan’s research seeks to understand aspects of the basic biology of early human embryo development and the role of specific genes, which has significant clinical implications for infertility, miscarriages, developmental disorders and therapeutic application of stem cells. As Kathy explained to the Guardian and Independent last October she applied to the HFEA to extend her existing license when she realised that exciting new genome editing techniques including Crispr/Cas 9 could help in her work.
In advance of any decisions on the success of her application the SMC invited Kathy to talk to journalists about her research, explain how genome editing in human embryos could advance that research, and answer questions about the future direction of her work. She was accompanied by her close colleague Robin Lovell-Badge who has taken a lead in the UK and global debates on human genome editing, and was on the organising committees of both the recent Hinxton and Washington global meetings on the science and ethics of this exciting new frontier in science.
Dr Kathy Niakan, Group Leader, The Francis Crick Institute
Prof. Robin Lovell-Badge, Group Leader, The Francis Crick Institute