The Chinese scientist claims to have taken an early step in the global research: the first genetically engineered children. His Sen. Jiankui says he transformed DNA of the twins born at the beginning of this month with a "powerful" tool.
If true, the advertisement, except for the great leap in science, would also be paradigmatic in the ethical sense. China tried human cloning, but not specifically a gene. "Society decides on the next step in its adoption or denial," he said.
The case will be officially published on Tuesday, November 27, during the Hong Kong Gene Editing Conference. According to the study, he changed seven embryos during the fertility treatment, but only one was pregnant. He explained that he did not aim to cure or prevent hereditary illnesses, but to try to create the character of a few people: the ability to fight AIDS, the potential infections of HIV-transmissible virus.
The researcher also reported that the parents of the children asked them not to be identified or interviewed. He has decided to genetically modify the gene against HIV because he said it was a big problem in China. He tried to deactivate the CCR5 gene that forms a gateway to the proteins that allows AIDS to cause the virus to enter the cell.
In seven couples, all men had HIV, and not all women had viruses, but no genetic modification was made to avoid transmission because there are different ways to do this without DNA modification.
His statements have not been independently confirmed, and the experiment has not been published in a scientific journal to which other experts rely. Some researchers have looked at the material the researcher has provided to the news agency Associated Press, but said that insufficient information was telling whether the problem was working or whether it was abandoned.
They also found evidence that the question was inadequate and at least one
The duplicate appears to be a "patch" of cells with several changes.
An American scientist said he participated in Chinese work, but explained that such a gene is banned in the US because DNA changes can be passed on to future generations and hinder other genes.
Many scientists believe that such work is too dangerous to experience, and some of them condemned the Chinese investigation into human experimentation.
"This is incomprehensible … a human experiment that is neither morally nor ethically defensible," said Kiran Musunuru, a specialist in genetics at the University of Pennsylvania and journalist of scientific journals.
"This is too early," added Epic Topol, who leads the Scripps Research Translation Institute of California.
Critics also argue that it is not possible to find out whether the accompanying couples had a complete understanding of the procedure because it was considered an "AIDS vaccine development program" in the consent forms.
However, he stated that he explained the aims of the procedure and explained to the couple that this process has never been done before. He also said that he has provided medical coverage for all the children planned for the project.
Those who oppose His "experiment" still point out that people with illness are more likely to be infected with other viruses, such as common colds.
But there are those who defend the research. George Church, a famous geneticist at Harvard University, underlined the initiative to try to modify the "evidence" of HIV that he called great public health threats.
DNA's question is a recent technology. A few years ago, researchers found an easy way to switch genes called CRISPR-cas9 but have recently been tested in adults to treat life-threatening illnesses.
The project of the Chinese scientist has been suspended until the expert analyzes the safety of this first experiment.
He Jiankui studied at Rice University and Stanford University and before returning home to open a lab at the University of South China and Technology in Shenzhen. He also has two genetic companies. In the laboratory, he says genetic changes are made in rats and monkeys.