The China’s Gene-Edited Babies Are A Part Of The Study Aimed To Cure HIV, But That Still Doesn’t Make It Ethically Correct
Scientific discovery can get pretty crazy sometimes. Humanity has finally gotten to the point where they can see viruses up-close. Not only has technology opened up new ways to treat previously terminal patients, but we’ve also developed ways to identify the very genes that cause hereditary diseases.
One would assume that being able to identify specific genes could be good or bad. And you’d be right to be a little worried.
Recent news has come out that a group of researchers from China claimed to have done what was once science fiction. They have found a way to actively edit the genes of babies, and have helped bring a set of twin girls with edited genes into the world.
The idea was to take a pre-emptive strike against illnesses and help prevent infections such as HIV and AIDS.
Though it has yet to be verified as true, we know that the project was headed by He Jiankui, a researcher from Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzen.
Lulu and Nana, the twin girls born to parents Mark and Grace, were the only birth in a clinical trial that had seven other couples participating. The women were free of any STD while the men in the study were HIV-positive.
During the process of in-vitro fertilization, the team injected Crispr-Cas9 immediate after injecting the sperm into the ovum. Think of the substance as a “genetic sniffer” tool. It was designed to hone in on a single gene among 20,000 and cut it.
The gene they wanted to take out? CCR5. This gene has been found to produce the exact protein on which HIV hitches a ride to spread and infect human cells.
The team conducting the study was hoping to show that complete immunity to HIV was possible through this process.
According to He lab’s website, the trials will be held till March 2019.
How far will science go with modified human genes? To which grade is it acceptable to use gene editing? And when it is not?