Taipei, Sept. 26 (CNA) U.S. geneticist Jennifer Doudna, one of this year's three recipients of the Tang Prize in biopharmaceutical science, said Monday that the biggest breakthrough of gene-editing technology could be its use in human embryos.
Amid concerns that the technology can be used to produce a perfect baby, Doudna said such a possibility exists as scientists gather more information.
But she expressed hope that scientists could get out of the ivory tower of the laboratory and avoid violating medical or moral ethics.
She made the remarks when giving a lecture on her research on a new technology for gene-editing, called CRISPR/Cas9, at Taipei Medical University in front of a packed crowd.
CRISPR stands for "clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats." Part of the CRISPR system is a protein called Cas-9, which is able to seek out, cut and eventually degrade DNA in a specific way.
The technology is widely used in animals and plants, Doudna said, and can be used to treat human disease through genetic repair or to research new animal species to serve as models for studying human diseases.
Some universities in the United States have used the technology to grow mushrooms, and because the process only removed bad DNA but did not involve adding foreign DNA, the mushrooms are not considered genetically modified, she said.
Doudna shared this year's Tang Prize with French microbiologist Emmanuelle Chapentier of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin and Chinese-American synthetic biologist Feng Zhang (張鋒) of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States.
The award ceremony was held in Taipei on Sunday, and the winners are lecturing on their research at school campuses this week.