Wednesday , May 12 2021

Science in crisis: genetically modified babies

Chinese scientist He Jiankui announced he is modifying the DNA of two babies to be immune to HIV. The response of the international scientific community was unanimous: it was not ethical.

1. Possible void. In his speech at the 2nd International Human Genome Publishing Summit, Chinese geneticist He Jiankui announced the birth of two twins whose DNA was modified using the CRISPR-Cas9 technique to make them resistant to the AIDS virus.

The Chinese researcher did not submit his research to other scientists, nor did he discover the truth of some of his associates and did not take into account the international consensus against genetic regulation in babies. Accordingly, according to M. I saw, "his experiment created a drawback as urgently as widespread". (Country, November 29, 2018)

The newspaper El Pais called He Yanquai as "an unsuccessful seeker of glory" (see), while La Vanguardia published the news with this title: "He is a great genetic gap" (see), and also compares it with the Italian embryologist Severino Antinori, when he announced in 2002, also without evidence, that he cloned human embryos and implanted in three women.

2. The risk of genetic manipulation. The alleged experiment of the PhD. He Jiankui would be to eliminate the molecular receptor (the CCR5 gene) through which the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can enter the cell and infect it, from the genetic material (DNA) of the two girls.

According to German biologist Jan Korbel, interviewed by the Deutsche Welle (DW), "this procedure is not only ethically criticized but rather risky," because during the process of removing the molecular receptor of HIV from DNA, they can also remove other genes that will affect these girls in the future. (DW, November 26, 2018)

In addition, Josep Corbella explains that the genetic publication made by Jiankui does not have a medical justification because "one of the girls who are allegedly born is still vulnerable to HIV because it has one of two copies of the gene untouched, which He knew – or it was necessary to know – before implanting the embryo. "(La Vanguardia, November 29, 2018)

3. A reaction in favor of ethics. Although the credibility of the experiment has been questioned by the scientific community, the news has joined dozens of international scholars who condemned the lack of Ethiopian ethics.

The Reuters agency reports that more than 100 scientists, most of them Chinese, wrote an open letter and published the Chinese newspaper "Paper", stating that "the ethical biomedical analysis of this so-called research is only by name. The implementation of direct human experiments can only be described as madness. "(La Jornada, November 27, 2018)

On the occasion of this news, the Council of Europe's Bioethics Committee recalled that ethics and human rights should be directed to the use of gene-regulating technologies in humans and warned that DNA regulation is "a very ethical problem, social and security". (, November 30, 2018)

Epilogue He Jiankui had just opened the "Pandora's Box" because he put at risk the future health of human beings. The words of the Eve snake resonate: "You will be like gods." However, the scientific community and the laying media that protested against it, reminded that science should not redesign human beings.

@FeyRazon [email protected]

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