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Chinese Scientist Claims First Gene-Edited Babies

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Patrick Trubee

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In late November, Dr. He Jiankui, a biophysics researcher at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, shocked the scientific community when he announced that he had created the first genetically altered humans – a pair of twins nicknamed Lulu and Nana. He used the gene-editing tool CRISPR to alter their genes before they were born in an attempt to make them immune to HIV. Concerns are, however, that genetic alterations could lead to unforeseen health complications for the twins later in life, and could lead to genetic mutations being introduced into the gene pool in the future.

The Southern University of Science in Technology, where He Jiankui is a professor

He Jiankui’s announcement created controversy and backlash, as scientists worldwide condemned his actions as reckless and a step too far. Francis Collins, director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, said, “Everything that’s emerged over the last week only adds to the concern about this having been a deeply unfortunate, misguided misadventure of the most dramatic sort. It was shocking at the time. A week later, it’s still shocking.”

Dr. Gaetan Burgio of the Australian National University, in an interview with Popular Mechanics, stated that He Jiankui’s lack of transparency in the experiment means that “we don’t know what has been done to [the children’s] genes.”

He Jiankui at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing on November 28th

“If this were a mouse,” Burgio continued, “I would not be concerned. But we’re talking about kids.”

Chinese officials have cut funding to He Jiankui’s future research and also decried his actions, claiming that they had no knowledge of the experiment. He Jiankui’s alma mater, Rice University, has released a statement that the work “violates scientific conduct guidelines and is inconsistent with the ethical norms of the scientific community and Rice University.”

 

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/12/07/673878474/outrage-intensifies-over-claims-of-gene-edited-babies

https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health/a25383837/crispr-baby-scientist-he-missing/

https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/2176131/gene-editing-controversy-chinese-scientist-he

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Patrick Trubee, Writer

I am a senior and a Varsity Cross Country athlete at Xavier College Prep. I enjoy eating In-N-Out burgers, writing short stories, and spending time with...

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Chinese Scientist Claims First Gene-Edited Babies