Publicado: Jue, Noviembre 29, 2018
Salud | Por Gertrudes Rodriquez

Scientist reports 2nd gene-edited pregnancy

Scientist reports 2nd gene-edited pregnancy

Chinese scientist, He Jiankui, who helped create the world's first genetically edited babies has defended his work at a summit in Hong Kong.

Feng Zhang, one of the founders of the CRISPR Cas9 technology used in He's experiment and a professor at MIT, told Caixin that DNA editing has a long way to go before being used in embryos.

The Chinese researcher who claims to have led the creation of the world's first genetically edited human babies, has been suspended without pay since February.

He Jiankui said he changed the twin's DNA to resist an HIV infection to help couples affected by HIV during fertility treatments. Scientists from across the globe lambasted He's experiment.

One of the additional women may be in the very early stages of pregnancy. The leader of the conference called the experiment "irresponsible" and evidence that the scientific community had failed to regulate itself to prevent premature efforts to alter DNA.

In the statement published on weibo.com, they said any attempt to change human embryos with genetic editing and allow the birth of such babies entails a high degree of risk due to inaccuracies in existing editing technologies.

When the twin girls, called Lulu and Nana to protect their privacy, were born, the researchers sequenced the girls' whole genomes again. Annas also asserted that He is "unqualified as a physicist to deal with patients, touch them, or get consent from them for a medical procedure (we don't know about the physicians involved, but on the surface, they seem to have acted unethically as well)".

In Canada, the research would likely have broken the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, which states that "no person shall knowingly alter the genome of a cell of a human being or in vitro embryo such that the adjustment is capable of being transmitted to descendants". "I'm grateful that he appeared today, but I don't think that we heard answers".

Do we really need gene editing?

"It's an appalling example of what not to do about a promising technology that has great potential to benefit society".

China's National Health Commission ordered an "immediate investigation" into the case on Monday, the official Xinhua news agency reported, while the Shenzhen hospital meant to have approved the research programme denied its involvement. "I feel proudest", He said, when challenged by several peers at the conference. When asked whether their genotype might affect their upbringing, he said, "I don't have to answer this question". Although China has no laws explicitly banning gene editing in babies, using the procedure does violate guidelines published by China's health ministry in 2003, and goes against worldwide guidelines agreed to at a summit on the issue in 2015.

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However, He maintained his research was valid, saying that he feels proud of what he had done with the girls' genes. "For this case, I feel proud".

"The University was deeply shocked by this event and has taken immediate action to reach Dr. Jiankui He for clarification".

More than 120 Chinese scientists signed a letter condemning the claim by He.

Prof He's university - the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen - said it was unaware of the research project and would launch an investigation. He's announcement has, thus far, been overwhelmingly negative along with the validity of the claims being questioned. Whether He violated reproductive medicine laws in China has been unclear; Qui contends that it did, but said, "the problem is, there's no penalty".

In this way, researchers can precisely turn off specific genes in the genome.

But genome editing could also more controversially used for genetic enhancements, such as ensuring children have a particular desirable characteristic such as a certain eye colour.

A visual representation of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing.

Zhang says causing a genetic adjustment may have additional unintended consequences - for example, in this instance, causing increased likelihood of contracting West Nile Virus or dying from the flu.

"Conducting direct human experiments can only be described as insane", they said.

The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. If the science is not considered ready or safe enough, "it's going to create misunderstanding, discordance and distrust". The AP is exclusively responsible for all content.

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