First time researchers edited OCT4 gene in human embryos

The researchers edited the human embryo to explore the function of the OCT4 gene. For the first time researchers used the CRISPR-Cas9 technique to deactivate the human embryonic genes needed to thrive. Deactivating the gene in the embryo means opening a window to learn about each other's functions in the earliest days of life formation.

Tinuku First time researchers edited OCT4 gene in human embryos

Kathy Niakan, a biologist at The Francis Crick Institute, and the team used a molecular technique called CRISPR-Cas9 to edit the system in human embryo that immobilizes the OCT4 gene. The results will show the normal role of genes in placental development.

Researchers usually remove and deactivate genes in mice, fruit flies, yeast and other laboratory creatures to investigate the role of a gene. But last year, the UK government granted permission to Niakan to use gene editing in human embryos from in vitro fertilization treatments.

A recent study by Niakan and team published in Nature is a breakthrough that allows researchers to directly investigate human development genes that have never been done before. The development of human embryos is largely inferred from rat studies and other model organisms.

Other teams have used CRISPR-Cas9 to repair mutated genes in human embryos. The ultimate goal of the study was to prevent genetic diseases from embryonic stage. But Niakan focuses on the fundamental question of how a gene affects the development of human embryos.

The OCT4 gene also helps human embryonic stem cells remain flexible enough to be any type of body cell. Scientists use the OCT4 protein to reprogram adult cells into embryonic cells.

But researchers do not know exactly how the OCT4 gene works during human development. Niakan reports that human embryos lacking OCT4 have difficulty reaching the blastocyst stage is a sphere of about 200 cells formed about five or six days after conception.