New Technologies May Have Already Introduced Genetic Errors to the Human Gene Pool. How Long Will They Last? And How Could They Affect Us?

April 13, 2021

(BBC) – In fact, there have been no shortage of surprises in the field. From the rabbits altered to be leaner that inexplicably ended up with much longer tongues to the cattle tweaked to lack horns that were inadvertently endowed with a long stretch of bacterial DNA in their genomes (including some genes that confer antibiotic resistance, no less) – its past is riddled with errors and misunderstandings. More recently, researchers at the Francis Crick Institute in London warned that editing the genetics of human embryos can lead to unintended consequences. By analysing data from previous experiments, they found that approximately 16% had accidental mutations that would not have been picked up via standard tests. Why are these mistakes so common? Can they be overcome? And how could they affect future generations?