Chinese scientist announced the birth of genetically edited children

Chinese scientist announced the birth of genetically edited children

Independent confirmation of these results yet.


Chinese scholar Cisangkuy Hae announced the birth of the first in the world of children from genetically edited embryos. According to the scientist, the twins were born, in which he attempted to create resistance to HIV infection. Ho told about his work in an exclusive interview with the Associated Press, scientific articles about his research or independent evidence yet, but it has already managed to criticize for human experimentation with unproven efficacy.

The first U.S. experiment to edit the genome of human embryos using CRISPR/Cas9 American scientists presented in the summer of 2017, before that, a similar operation was conducted in China, including viable embryos.

In all experiments, the edit was conducted for medical purposes, and the embryos were subsequently destroyed.

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In the fall of 2017 British scientists have published the results of an experiment in which the editing of the genome of human embryos was first used not for treatment of congenital diseases, and in purely research purposes. Edit the genome at the level of the whole embryo implies inevitable changes transfer by inheritance, which is a concern to some scientists and politicians. Consensus on the legal status of such studies in Western countries yet. Although China banned human cloning outright ban on genetic editing of viable embryos, in contrast to the United States, there.

Ho said the AP that edited the embryos of seven couples that received IVF, and while one of the treatments over pregnancy and childbirth. According to him, the parents of the girls refused to identify themselves and give comments, and it is not reported to the Agency where they live and where the work was performed. Patients he recruited through a group of HIV activists in Beijing. In addition to the AP, he talked about his study to the conference on genetic editing, which will begin on Tuesday (conference material is not known, but apparently it is the second international summit on the editing of the human genome in Hong Kong).

I feel a huge responsibility for the fact that it is not just the first such case, but an example for all. Society will decide what to do next [to authorize or prohibit such research]Cisangkuy Hokitiki octynoatePropensity to alcoholism and drug addiction can be spelled out in DNA

Two of the interviewed AP scholars harshly criticized this ethically unacceptable, “the human experiment”, noting that the technology for such work is not yet “ripe”. But George Church, a geneticist from Harvard University, stressed that the problem of HIV justifies the use of methods of genetic editing.

Ho told the news Agency that he studied at rice University and Stanford in the USA and now works at the South University of science and technology in Shenzhen, where he has a lab and two companies in the field of genetics. To experiments with human embryos Hae worked with mice and monkeys. In his last experiment, he tried to disable the CCR5 gene, which encodes a protein that allows HIV to enter the cell. In the AP article mentioned editing method called CRISPR/Cas9, however, direct reference to the fact, that he used it there. Only the scientist was able to edit 16 of the 22 embryos, 11 of which were used in six attempts at one ended in pregnancy and childbirth. The following attempts have not yet carried out to ensure the safety of the held experiment.

According to Ho, one of the girls has edited both copies of the gene, and the second one copy, evidence of damage to other genes he found.

However, experts interviewed by the AP, including the Church, have studied the materials provided by the Ho to the Agency, and believe that tests are not sufficient to confidently say that the editing was successful and did not cause harm.

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In addition, the Agency notes that Hae officially informed the government on its work through the clinical trials registry, only 8 of November, much later than it started. The consent forms for the participants of the experiment, the program was described as “the development of a vaccine against AIDS”, so it is not obvious that the participants really understood its purpose, risks and benefits. Ho says that he personally explained to all couples that implantation edited viable human embryos has not previously been conducted, and that he promised to all newborns health insurance and routine examinations up to 18 years and beyond.

Olga Dobrovicova