Scientist from China announced the birth of genetically modified children
Today there was an interesting news - the Chinese scientist Jiankui He announced the birth of the world's first children with a modified genome. The scientist claims that he changed the genome of embryos in such a way as to make the body of future people resistant to HIV. The scientist made a statement in an exclusive interview with the Associated Press news agency.
Unfortunately, so far there is no confirmation of this information; moreover, the scientist has not released a single publication explaining and presenting his experiment. No one doubts that the human genome can be edited, because such experiments have been carried out earlier, and they are being carried out now.
But since the Chinese scientist declares not the usual experience, but the birth of genetically modified people with HIV resistance, this requires confirmation. Previously, American and Chinese scientists conducted experiments on embryos for medical purposes, and the embryos were destroyed after each experiment.
The problem, according to some experts, is that genetically modified people will transfer their genes to descendants, which causes concern for many people. It is worth noting that in China there is no ban on genetic editing of viable embryos. In most other countries, such a ban exists.
He claims that he edited the embryos of seven pairs that underwent IVF. As a result, one of these procedures ended in pregnancy and childbirth. The parents of the born twins have forbidden to give their names, it is not known where they live. The scientist said only that he recruited patients as volunteers in a group of HIV activists in Beijing.
With regard to the experiments of the scientist, then, according to him, he has the necessary base - both knowledge and tools. He works at the South University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, where he has a laboratory. In addition, the scientist owns two companies that work in the field of genetics. In the last experiment, he decided to disable the CCR5 gene. This gene is responsible for coding a protein that allows HIV to enter human cells.
The scientist casually mentioned the genome editing method called CRISPR / Cas9. However, there is no direct indication that Xe used this method. The experience included editing the genome of 16 of 22 embryos destined for volunteers who underwent the IVF procedure. So far, the experiments have been suspended - the scientist wants to make sure that the experiment is safe, and nothing threatens the life and health of the girls born.
One of the twins edited two copies of the desired gene, the second - one copy. It is worth noting that the authorities received notification of the start of clinical trials much later than the experiment was conducted. As for volunteers, the scientist promised the parents of future children medical insurance and regular examinations - up to 18 years and even later.
Now both the hospital where the experiments were conducted (at least the scientist asserts it) and the university where the specialist works conduct their own investigation.
It should be noted that immediately after the statement of the scientist, one of the creators of the CRISPR / Cas genome editing, Feng Zhang, expressed his opinion. He, in particular, spoke in favor of a total ban on the implantation of embryos with an edited genome into the mother's organism.