Saturday , October 1 2022

Genes edited by genes: China tests bioethics


"Head Transplant"

Italian surgeon Sergio Canavero sparked controversy last year when he claimed to have performed the world's first head transplant on a corpse at a Chinese hospital, the Global Times reported at the time, although other researchers have called his exaggerated claims.

Sunday He, who was educated at Stanford University, announced in a YouTube video that he used CRISPR, a technique that allows scientists to remove and replace a precision component to modify the twin DNA.

The tool has not been used in human studies in the United States, although Chinese doctors use it to treat cancer patients.

Qiu Renzong, the former vice president of the Chinese Health Ministry's ethics committee, accused him of obtaining a "fraudulent" ethical review by going to another hospital for examination, unlike getting his own university approval, adding that it destroys the reputation of people science in China.

Qiu said that a lack of regulation means that scientists often do not face penalties because they are obliged to respect only the rules of their institutions, which does not provide for punishments for misconduct.

"People say the ministry is teeth-free, it can not bite people, so we try to give it to the head of the ministry so it can bite people when people violate regulations," he told reporters in English at an editing conference of genes in Hong Kong.

"The continent is very protective of the scientists, if you make a small mistake, this is the end, there is no punishment. I suggest that they be punished," he added.

The "crazy"

With a community of skeptical scholars awaiting the demonstration of his claims, he expects the scientist to speak on Wednesday and Thursday at the same Hong Kong conference.

He, working in a laboratory in the Chinese city of Shenzhen in southern China, also faces control of the continent, the National Health Commission ordering a case investigation.

A group of 122 Chinese scientists signed a joint statement naming the "crazy" experiment and said it was unfair to other scientists who are in the "moral line".

The South University of Science and Technology, where he works, said he was on unpaid leave in February, and his research is a "serious violation of academic ethics and norms."

An opinion from the Shenzhen Medical Ethics Authority stated that all medical organizations need to establish an ethical evaluation committee before conducting biomedical research on people, and the ethics committee of the involved hospital has not completed its registration so as necessary.

He claimed his research in another video, saying he was trying to help families with genetic diseases.

"We believe that ethics is on our side of history. Look at Louise Brown in 1970. The same fears and criticism are being repeated now," he said, referring to the first person born through in vitro fertilization.

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