Scientists Used CRISPR to Edit a Gene That Causes Miscarriages


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The gene editing technology could eventually herald the next frontier in fertility treatment.

By Mallory Locklear | MOTHERBOARD

Between 15 to 20 percent of pregnancies in the US will end in a miscarriage and when the cause isn’t known, it’s thought that genetics are often the culprit. Reproduction is a very complex process with an astounding number of factors at play. „The tricky thing about early development is there are so many things that can go wrong,“ David Keefe, a fertility specialist at New York University, told me. „All happy embryos are the same and all unhappy embryos are unhappy in their own way.“

Because of that, figuring out the genetic causes underlying miscarriages has been incredibly hard to do. Some experiments compare the genomes of fertile and infertile adults and try to spot genetic differences between the two. But as Cornell University genetics professor John Schimenti told me, „There are so many different causes that the statistics aren’t great enough to identify common alleles in the population.“

CRISPR, a fairly new gene editing tool, is changing that. While it’s still a long way from preventing miscarriages, researchers have been using the technology to generate new methods of peeking into the genetics behind infertility in hopes of more successfully treating its causes.

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