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Precise "chemical surgery" has been performed on human embryos to remove disease in a world first, Chinese researchers have told the BBC.

The team at Sun Yat-sen University used a technique called base editing to correct a single error out of the three billion "letters" of our genetic code.

They altered lab-made embryos to remove the disease beta-thalassemia. The embryos were not implanted. The team says the approach may one day treat a range of inherited diseases.

Base editing alters the fundamental building blocks of DNA: the four bases adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine.

They are commonly known by their respective letters, A, C, G and T.

President Obama and his daughter Malia at his victory rally in 2012

Barack Obama has said he could not hold back tears after dropping off his daughter Malia at university. "It was a little bit like open-heart surgery," the former president said of the moment he took Malia, his eldest daughter, to Harvard University.

"I was proud that I did not cry in front of her," Mr Obama said.

"But on the way back, the Secret Service was off, looking straight ahead, pretending they weren't hearing me as I sniffled and blew my nose."

"It was rough," he added.