Chinese scientist creates world’s first genetically edited children, dangerous clinical trial halted
(NaturalHealth365) In late November of 2018, Chinese scientist He Jiankui revealed his involvement in the birth of the world’s first genetically edited children. But, many scientists freaked out and said we are not ready for this gene editing technology to be used in the birth of a child.
Jiankui made the announcement at the Human Genome Editing Summit at the University of Hong Kong, and the news quickly spread worldwide. This revelation has sparked reactions ranging from disappointment to outrage.
So, in the wake of all this controversy, Jiankui – who works in the Shenzhen, China Southern University of Science and Technology as an associate professor – put future work on hold.
CRISPR gene editing technology used to ‘cut and paste’ DNA components
The conference organizers revealed that they had been unaware of this development until that week. One of the conference leaders said this work illustrates a failure of self-regulation among scientists.
The Chinese scientist used the CRISPR-Cas9 in his efforts, more commonly known as CRISPR.
This technology allows scientists to “cut and paste” DNA, editing it and making fixes for human characteristics such as eye color or predisposition for disease. While potentially revolutionary, it also raises major concerns about ethics, safety and human rights.
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Over 100 scientists, mostly from China, composed an open letter regarding the use of CRISPR-Cas9 technology. They maintain that editing the genes of human embryos is “unjustified” and “dangerous.”
“Pandora’s box has been opened,” the letter continued. When challenged by several peers at the summit, Jiankui expressed that he was ‘very proud’ of his work.
The CRISPR technology was used to alter the embryonic genes of twin baby girls who were just born. He also revealed that another research subject is pregnant.
A total of eight volunteer couples consisting of HIV-negative mothers and HIV-positive fathers signed up for the trial.
CRISPR gene editing may improve biological outcomes, but raises MANY ethical concerns
The research results have not yet been submitted for review in a scientific journal, and Jiankui admitted his university had not been aware of his efforts. At this time, the trial has been halted due to strong outcry from both the public and scientific peers.
In addition, criticism has arisen regarding the secrecy around the work, but the Chinese researcher maintains that he has been in touch with the scientific community throughout the past three years.
Note: Being ‘in touch’ with scientists is a pretty vague concept and makes us wonder what’s really going on here.
Jiankui maintains that gene editing will assist with protecting the twin girls from HIV, the virus that can lead to AIDS. However, there doesn’t seem to be much support from the scientific community or the Chinese government for his work in this arena.
CRISPR used by Monsanto to avoid GMO label
Sadly, the vast majority of the population still has no idea about the genetic manipulation of the food supply – which has been going on for decades.
For example, Monsanto – the most hated biotech company in the world – uses CRISPR gene editing technology to alter the genome of the Frankenfoods they create.
And, yes, CRISPR technology offers some ‘exciting’ possibilities for many large food producers looking to dodge GMO restrictions – since organisms altered with CRISPR technically aren’t technically classified as GMOs.
At this point: we have no idea whether CRISPR gene editing technology will help to reduce the risk of genetic diseases or birth defects. In addition, we do not have enough data to suggest it will be safe for the ecosystem, our food supply or the future of humanity.
We can only pray that the scientific community will develop a true ethical foundation for its work – before it’s too late.
Sources for this article include:
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