Hong Kong –
Chinese researcher said on Monday that he had gone a in vitro fertilization with modified genes which caused AIDS-resistant twins, a statement that caused ethical criticism "dangerous" and "irresponsible".
He Jiankui, a professor at Shenzhen University in South China, sent a video to YouTube about two twins born two weeks ago, whose DNA was changed. so that they are resistant to the AIDS virus. He explained that the father is HIV-positive.
A trainee trained in Stanford United States and leading a specialized Genom laboratory in Shenzhen explained that he had Crispr-Cas9 technology, called "genetic scissors" which allows the deletion and replacement of unwanted genomic genes as the computer error is corrected.
The babies, called "Lula" and "Nana", were born in vitro fertilization after a modified embryo before implantation in the mother's womb.
"Just after the man's sperm had been injected into the egg, the Embryologist injected Crispr-Cas9, which is responsible for modifying the gene to protect girls from future HIV infection," he explained.
Genetically modifying DNA can be useful to avoid diseases, but this practice is problematic because genetic changes are inherited by the new generation.
The MIT technology review recalled that "technology has ethical responsibility".
The announcement of this medical test became the beginning of the experiment for a global genomic expert meeting in Hong Kong during which a Chinese scientist must present the results in detail.
After the criticisms received, however, his participation in this congress of genetics is not guaranteed.
This self-reported medical experiment It was not checked independently. The Chinese team did not publish the results in the scientific journal.
– "very problematic" experiment –
After the announcement, many Chinese scientists and institutions criticized this experiment.
The university in which he is working announced that he had paid his salary since February and considered that fertilization with modified genes represented "the violation of the ethical criteria of the Academy and its norms".
"This study was conducted within the university," said the South University of Science and Technology on Monday.
Also a hundred Chinese researchers published a joint statement where they criticized the experiment and they requested that the legislation on in vitro fertilization be amended.
In addition, international researchers criticized this announcement via YouTube video
"Publishing these results for YouTube video is a very problematic scientific practice," filed a lawsuit by Professor Lowell Philosophy Professor of American Philosophy who works on bioethics issues.
"This moves away control processes, many of which are scientific advances, such as peer review," he added to AFP's question.
Whether it is whether it is announced or not "serious ethical problems", says Sarah Chan from the University of Edinburgh, mentioned by Science Media Center.
"Making such allegations, apparently deliberately seeking the most possible controversy (…) is irresponsible," he added.
He Jiankui did not respond immediately to AFP's questions. (I)