Friday , May 7 2021

Stir about genetically modified twins

Is everything that is technically possible in the field of science going to be done one day? Rapid technological advances can break ethical barriers, as evidenced by the controversial announcement of the birth of the first genetically modified babies.

Is ethics bound to run behind the technique, always with a delay time? This issue, just like science itself, rose this week with the birth of the first genetically modified babies in the world.

Although some scientists doubt the authenticity of their claims, says the Chinese researcher He Jiankui shifted DNA from two twins to be resistant to the AIDS virus.

He says he used it a genome editing technique called Crispr-Cas9, which has revolutionized the genome of 2012.

This announcement caused major problems and the world scientific community unanimously condemned whom he described as a student of the wizard.

He Jiankui, responsible for the unprecedented fact of genetic manipulation, in his laboratory in southern China – AP

"Good science does not create knowledge in the middle of a vacuum: the context and consequences are crucial, and the consequences of this irresponsible action could be catastrophic" commented Dr. Sarah Chan of the University of Edinburgh.

However, criticism was not so much at the beginning of genetic modification in humans, but on the very conditions of experience.

First of all, the fact that it was conducted beyond any framework, alone and very prematurely.

In fact, the consequences of the use of Crispr-Cas9, in particular the possibility of genetic modifications, transferable from one generation to another, have unexpected effects and lead to the creation of "monsters".

Another important ethical violation was the purpose of the experiment: protecting babies against AIDS and not curing them of a disease that threatens their lives.

The scientific community fears that the transgression of these ethical principles causes doubt in a very promising sector of research.

"Starting in a technological flight ahead, when the underlying ethical scenes are lit, can make us go backwards", says Cathy Niacan, a biologist at the Francis Creek Institute in London.

Therefore, several international scientific bodies believe that modifications to the genome can be acceptable in the future, but strictly controlled.

This was an idea unthinkable just a few decades ago, which shows the difficulty of establishing undisputed barriers.

"You can not say: this is a taboo, a period, and we're no longer talking about it," says Anne Cambon-Thomsen, research director at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS, an acronym in French).

"An essential element that shapes our humanity is the ability to reflect what our technical abilities allow, continues Cambon-Thomsen, a member of the European Ethics Group (EGE), who advises the European Commission.

Human cloning remains a red line. "This leaves the medical framework, and it's hard to show the benefit of cloning" according to Anne Cambon-Thomsen.

After a stupor caused by Jiankui's announcement, the Chinese government announced it would open a criminal case and may go to jail for violating ethical standards.

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