Did You Know?
The era of genetically modified babies/ humans is here. We may soon have X-Men mutants and Superheroes in future. Who knows?
CRISPR babies: more details on the experiment that shocked the world
By Michael Le Page
On Monday, the world was stunned by an Associated Press story claiming that the first gene-edited babies had been born in China. On Wednesday, the scientist responsible revealed far more details during a talk at a gene-editing summit in Hong Kong, including that there is another pregnancy.
There hasn’t yet been any independent verification that two gene-edited girls really have been born. But the technical details revealed by He Jiankui today may have been enough to convince many of the scientists in attendance. However, questions still remain over the ethics and safety of the experiment.
The stated aim of the project was to make individuals immune to HIV by disabling the gene for a protein called CCR5, which is exploited by the virus. However, disabling this gene does not provide complete protection against HIV and the broader consequences of knocking out this gene – which is involved in immune function – are unclear.
The team began by using the CRISPR gene editing method to disable CCR5 in mice and monkeys, He said, and found no health or behavioural issues. But one of the organisers of the summit, Robin Lovell-Badge of the Francis Crick Institute in London, pointed out that immune genes affect the entire body, and that a different mouse study found that deleting CCR5 improved their cognitive abilities.
“Have you inadvertently caused an enhancement?” Lovell-Badge asked He after the talk. The mouse study needed verification, He replied. “I am against using genome editing for enhancement.”
Read through the article to know the details.