Humans will be genetically modified for the first time in Europe after regulators have given the go ahead to trial DNA-splicing therapy.
A destructive blood disorder known as beta thalassaemia, which reduces the production of haemoglobin, could be cured using this therapy.
Haemoglobin carries the oxygen the body needs to its cells and without sufficient amounts those with the disease can be left with bone deformities, anaemia, slow growth, fatigue and shortness of breath.
Scientists at the biotech company Crispr hope that they can alter the body’s code to stop the genetic mutation and restore healthy levels of haemoglobin.
A destructive blood disorder known as beta thalassaemia, which reduces the production of haemoglobin, could be cured using a new type of therapy
The disease is the first to be treated using this method in Europe and experts have said that the trials hold promise.
Similar trials have taken place in China however they do not have the same restrictive regulations as Europe or the U.S.
Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, Group Leader at London’s Francis Crick Institute, told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘We will look back and think that this is the real beginning of gene therapy.’
This type of therapy has been used for the past 30 years as doctors dispense the missing DNA from damaged cells to increase their effectiveness.
But the work taking place at Crispr may be a more long-term solution which has also proven to be cheaper.
The therapy uses bacteria’s natural defence mechanism which is carrying strands of deadly viruses so that they can recognise them.
Scientists at the biotech company Crispr hope that they can alter the body’s code to stop the genetic mutation and restore healthy levels of haemoglobin
If they come into contact with the virus they are able to release an enzyme in order to attack it and cut away at that form of code.
Scientists have taken this on board and created their own cutting mechanism which removes mutated areas of DNA.