Thursday, March 14, 2019

Chinese scientists say they have created genetically engineered babies

Chinese scientists say they have created the world's first genetically modified babies, according to the US publication 'MIT Technology Review', although the University of Shenzhen they work in has no record of this study.
The researchers used the CRISPR / Cas9 technique in two twins to make them resistant to diseases such as HIV, cholera or smallpox, according to data released Sunday by the specialized magazine.
Although MIT highlights that the work has not yet been published in any scientific journal, the lead researcher, He Jiankui, has released in a video posted on Youtube the fertilization process that followed to achieve the birth this month of the two twins , Lulu and Nana, genetically modified.
"The results indicated that the operation worked correctly, as planned," says He in the video, which highlights that girls have their genes modified so they can not get HIV.
According to He, the genetic modification does not aim to eliminate genetic diseases, but to "give girls the natural ability to resist a possible future HIV infection".
For this, the researchers 'deactivated' the CCR5 gene, which in practice would be an improvement of DNA, says He, who adds that next month "more details about the research will be released."
The development of this plan, which uses technology prohibited in the United States and Europe, could generate controversy, since where some scientists see a new form of medicine that eliminates genetic diseases, others see a form of eugenics.
The university has no record of the study of He and the health authorities of Shenzhen "did not receive any request" to carry it out, reports China Daily today.
The Chinese newspaper adds that the study "has sparked controversy" between academics and citizens of the country "for its ethics and effectiveness."
"Genetic editing technology is far from mature and should not be used in humans," scientist Wu Zunyou told the newspaper, for whom it is "inappropriate" to do such research in humans.
In 2016, a group of Chinese scientists became the pioneers in using in humans, specifically with patients with lung cancer, the CRISPR genetic modification technology, according to the Nature magazine.
However, scientists in the United Kingdom have discovered that CRISPR gene editing technology can cause more damage to cells than was previously believed, according to a study published this year by the same journal. 

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