Scientists slam Chinese CRISPR babies research

Chinese experiment to immunise twins against HIV may have failed, created mutations: Scientists

Chinese experiment to immunise twins against HIV may have failed, created mutations: Scientists

He Jiankui, a Chinese biophysics researcher, earlier claimed to have successfully performed gene-editing on twins Lula and Nana and immunised them against HIV.

Excerpts from the manuscript were released by MIT Technology Review for the objective of showing how Chinese biophysicist He Jiankui ignored ethical and scientific norms in creating twins Lula and Nana, whose birth late past year sent shock waves through the scientific world. The announcement of the girls' birth last November sent shockwaves through the scientific community, with researchers and ethicists worldwide calling the experiment unlawful, unethical, and unacceptable.

Jiankui had claimed that the experiment would lead to a medical breakthrough wherein the HIV epidemic can be controlled. The team had not reproduced the gene mutation that confers this resistance.

Chinese scientist He Jiankui (L) arrives to speak at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong on November 28, 2018.

Fyodor Urnov, a genome-editing scientist on the College of California, Berkeley instructed the MIT Know-how Evaluate: "The declare they've reproduced the prevalent CCR5 variant is a blatant misrepresentation of the particular information and may exclusively be described by one time period: a deliberate falsehood". It is this gene that Jiankui claimed to have targeted using the powerful editing tool CRISPR. Many called for a ban on the use of CRISPR technology on humans until more research can be done into its safety. This particular tool is said to have revolutionized the field since its arrival in 2012.

The report said that Jiankui and his team did not actually replicate the "Delta 32" variation as intended, but created mutations the effects of which are still unclear.

Researchers were also concerned that the parents of the babies were pressured into consenting to the experiment. This has given rise to the ethical concerns behind this experiment.

The father was HIV positive, which carries a significant social stigma in China and makes it nearly impossible to have access to fertility treatment, even though a well-established technique known as "sperm washing" prevents the infection from being passed on to unborn children. This had made it impossible for the parents to go to fertility centers and have access to treatment.

The mother and father' lack of entry to any sort of fertility therapy might need motivated them to participate within the experiment regardless of the massive dangers to their youngsters, Jeanne O'Brien, a reproductive endocrinologist at Shady Grove Fertility instructed the MIT Know-how Evaluate.

Where is He Jiankui?

Jiankui has attempted to have his manuscript published by prestigious journals, including Nature and JAMA, but it remains unpublished.

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