First Genome-Edited Babies? - Hit & Run

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Scientists who reviewed his claims said the alterations aren't an exact match to natural CCR5 mutations, and that a big question is whether the gene is altered in every cell.

The group's pioneer that shares the namesake of the editing technology has enrolled its first patient in a European study and recently opened enrollment in the USA for patients with severe sickle cell disease in trials with partner Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. However, "Assuming that independent analysis confirms today's news, this work reinforces the urgent need to confine the use of gene editing in human embryos to settings where a clear unmet medical need exists, and where no other medical approach is a viable option, as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences", Doudna wrote.

Susceptibility to HIV infection is not an obvious target for genome editing.

Some researchers are trying to use genetic editing technology to treat people infected with HIV, so the virus will not replicate and be transmitted to others, he said.

Canadian bioethicist Francoise Baylis says that if He's claims are verified, she's disappointed that he chose to move forward altering the DNA, a change that will be passed on from generation to generation. But his announcement sparked heated controversy over concerns over medical ethics and effectiveness. Many scientists working in genetics say they believe such experimentation is risky.

And Rice University in the United States said it will investigate the involvement of physics professor Michael Deem.

Mr. Urnov noted that global scientific consensus on genetic editing of embryos has stopped short of implantation and that scientific discovery should be pursued for the most devastating and fatal diseases for which there is an unmet medical need and no viable alternatives.

But He's alleged work traverses uncharted waters that are troubling to many ethicists.

"None of the reported work has gone through the peer review process", and the conference is aimed at hashing out important issues such as whether and when gene editing is appropriate, she said.

Qiu said it was highly hard to assess the risk-benefit ratio in such modification work for improving one's existing condition or for medical purposes, and added that such work should not be the priority of scientists. A widespread backlash to the aggressive use of gene-editing could spur a similar reaction, or at least a dramatic clampdown on efforts like He's.

If the claim is verified, genetic engineers have already likened the birth to that of the first baby born through IVF.

He lays out his ethical principles in one of the YouTube videos, including this statement: "No one has a right to determine a child's genetics except to prevent disease".

The conflict of interest of the "researchers" who own companies/have a financial interest in the success of the technology. The study recruited couples with an HIV-positive husband and HIV-negative wife.

The reports that the "researchers" involved have no experience running clinical trials, and who are trained in physical sciences.

The report that the patients may not have been appropriately briefed on the experimental nature of the trials.

"Where is the assurance this mutation now will result in resistance to HIV?" He told The Associated Press, adding that "society will decide what to do next".

More than 100 scientists signed a petition calling for greater oversight on gene editing experiments.

"There will be someone, somewhere, who is doing this".

"The human genome belongs to all of us and in some sense we all get to have a say", Baylis added.

Human gene-editing has been a contentious subject of research and debate since related technologies and equipment became widely available in 2015. If confirmed, this represents a huge technological and ethical leap. Even publication is no guarantee of truth, as the 2006 South Korean human cloning fakery should remind us.

Even seeing the detailed data may be tricky. This aspect of the story is really problematic and disturbing. Yet he called the reported experiment "monstrous", in light of the serious risks and lack of necessity.

One of the co-inventors of the Crispr technique, University of California-Berkeley researcher Jennifer Doudna, urged extreme caution before it's used in humans.