World’s First Genetically Edited Babies Created in China – Will We Modify Kids’ DNA from Now?

189

Chinese researcher’s claims on Monday that he had created the world’s first genetically edited babies. Here’s what it means and how the science world reacted to that.

gene-editing-babies-pics1

Source: Getty Images

Technology of future or monstrous experiment?

A scientist in China claims to have created the world’s first genetically edited babies, in a potentially ground-breaking and controversial medical first.

If true, it would be a profound leap of science and ethics. This kind of gene editing is banned in most countries as the technology is still experimental and DNA changes can pass to future generations, potentially with unforeseen side-effects.

Many mainstream scientists think it is too unsafe to try, and some denounced the Chinese report as human experimentation.

Prof He Jiankui says the twin girls, born a few weeks ago, had their DNA altered as embryos to prevent them from contracting HIV.

His claims, filmed by Associated Press, are unverified and have sparked outrage from other scientists, who have called the idea monstrous.

gene-editing-babies-pics1

Source: Getty Images

Risks of gene-editing

Gene editing could potentially help avoid heritable diseases by deleting or changing troublesome coding in embryos.

But experts worry meddling with the genome of an embryo could cause harm not only to the individual but also future generations that inherit these same changes.

And many countries, including the UK, have laws that prevent the use of genome editing in embryos for assisted reproduction in humans.

Scientists can do gene editing research on discarded IVF embryos, as long as they are destroyed immediately afterwards and not used to make a baby.

gene-editing-babies-pics2

Source: Shutterstock

Why the scientist did that?

Prof He says he used gene-editing tools to make two twin baby girls, known as “Lulu” and “Nana” to make the girls resistant to HIV should they ever come into contact with the virus.

He says his work is about creating children who would not suffer from diseases, rather than making designer babies with bespoke eye colour or a high IQ.

“I understand my work will be controversial – but I believe families need this technology and I’m willing to take the criticism for them,” he says in the video.

“I feel a strong responsibility that it’s not just to make a first, but also make it an example,” He said. “Society will decide what to do next” in terms of allowing or forbidding such science.


MORE NEWS

Summary
World’s First Genetically Edited Babies Created in China - Will We Modify Kids' DNA from Now?
Article Name
World’s First Genetically Edited Babies Created in China - Will We Modify Kids' DNA from Now?
Description
Chinese researcher’s claims on Monday that he had created the world’s first genetically edited babies. Here's what it means and how the science world reacted to that.
Nexter.org
Nexter.org
Nexter.org
/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/logo_nexterbg.jpg
  Subscribe  
Notify of

More News from Nexter