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Science is closer to creating genetically engineered human beings, and the advances in technology are sparking ethical arguments over making "a new kind of person."

The National Institutes of Health said Wednesday it would not fund any research into the gene editing of human embryos. The decision comes after Chinese researchers announced last week results from the first study to edit human embryo genes.

Gene editing, as the term implies, enables a scientist to cut DNA from a genome and insert it into another genome.

Theoretically an edited human embryo could then be implanted in a woman's uterus.

The goal is to edit the group of cells called the germline that could hand down diseases from one generation to the next. Researchers hope to prevent inherited diseases such as cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia from being passed on from a parent to a child.

The Chinese study was not successful. Scientists missed targets to place the DNA and discovered unknown mutations to cells.

However, the experiment has renewed talk in the scientific community of whether such research...