Oregon Researchers Frustrated By Federal Genetic Testing Block

Congressional efforts to block research on the genes of human embryos continue, and researchers at Oregon Health & Sciences University are finding it particularly frustrating.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee has included language in the Food & Drug Administration's budget for next year that effectively bans federal research on genetic editing in humans.

Philip Yeske, the science officer at the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, said the restriction is toughest on families with genetic disorders.

“Oh," he said, "we’re very disappointed.”

Researchers at OHSU have done breakthrough work on one kind of genetic editing — mitochondrial replacement therapy.

OHSU's Dan Dorsa said researchers were just about to submit a new study.

“What this will mean is here in the U.S., we’re precluded from moving ahead with this," Dorsa said. "And yet, in Britain and certainly other countries, this is already going on.”

Members of the appropriations subcommittee have said they understand the potential benefits of genetic modifications, but researchers don’t fully understand possible side effects.

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