The media buzzing with the surprise news that a Chinese researcher, Jainkui He, created the first twins edited in the world genome. He has done this, apparently, to provide resistance to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Prof. He worked with former University of Rice supervisor Michael Deem, capitalized at work in 2012 by Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuel Charpentier, who introduced a new and easier way to modify the DNA of human and non- human using CRISPR-Cas9 technology. He also built the work of molecular biologist Feng Zhang, who optimized this genome editing system for use in human cells.
He says he is moving the genome of the germline line from the lab to the delivery room – other scientists might have thought, despite ethical concerns.
The scientific community has expressed widespread condemnation of its decision to initiate a pregnancy using genetically modified embryos – as "dangerous," "irresponsible" and "crazy". are we trained by the consequences of genetic engineering on our evolution?
We claim we can not allow scientists to decide the fate of the human genome. Editing the genital genome genome represents a significant existential threat because changes can persist across the entire human population along generations with unknown risks.
We have to engage in an inclusive global dialogue – involving experts and the public – to develop a broad social consensus on what to do with genetic technologies.
Possible mutations or forced sterilization
He announced to the world that he had edited the human embryo genome for seven couples using CRISPR-Cas9 technology. According to He, two of these embryos led to a pregnancy, and twin girls were born (Lulu and Nana, which are pseudonyms).
The purpose of the editing was to confer resistance to HIV by modifying the CCR5 gene (the protein entry by which HIV enters human cells). He claims that these changes were verified in both twins, and these data were analyzed and called "probably correct" by George Church, a renowned geneticist at Harvard.
Evidence suggests that the procedure is unnecessary, is unlikely to provide benefits, and can even harm. Although Lulu and Nana's father were HIV-positive, he was unlikely to have passed this disease to his children using standard IVF procedures.
Children born from genome editing are genetically mosaics with unstable HIV resistance and probably decreased resistance to viral diseases such as influenza and West Nile. This is because the CCR5 gene of the disabled has an important role in resistance to these diseases.
There is also the possibility of unintentional mutations caused by the CRISPR procedure. These health risks can not be exaggerated, because the repercussions of these twin girls for their susceptibility to infectious diseases or cancer will probably be a cause for lifelong concern.
Another uncertain consequence for twins concerns their reproductive health and freedom. As they approach breeding age, will they be faced with the possibility of "forced" sterilization to prevent the transmission of modified genes to future generations?
The University of Southern Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, where he is engaged (currently on leave from February 2018 to January 2021), has distanced himself from the researcher and will form an independent international committee to investigate widespread and controversial research.
Rice University, where Michael Deem is employed, also said he would investigate.
Shenzhen HarMoniCare Hospital for Women and Children launched an investigation into the validity of the ethics documents provided by him that document the approval of research ethics.
It is important that ethical approval was only uploaded to the Chinese clinical database of November 8 as a retrospective record – probably during the twenties.
Designer children by powerful elites
With Genetic Glass Genius, we need to ask ourselves if we need more time to reflect on ethics?
A just and fair society is one with fewer disparities and more justice. A predictable consequence of allowing individuals (encouraging) the genetic modification of their children will be a greater disparity and greater injustice – and not only because of limited access to genome editing technology.
A significant concern is the inevitable rise in discrimination, stigmatization and marginalization, as strong scientific and corporate elites decide what features are desirable and what features they are not.
Although he does not agree with the so-called "designer children" whose parents choose the color of their children's eyes, hair color, IQ, and so on, we are forced to contemplate such a future "eugenic" dystrophy.
The human genome belongs to everyone. As such, we have to commit ourselves to the hard work of facing the 2015 warning from the Organizing Committee of the International Genetic Editorial Summit to work towards a "common consensus of society" on how to continue or do not continue, editing.
In this sense, it is unimaginable that Feng Zhang should seek a moratorium on the implantation of the edited embryos and remind his scientific colleagues that "in 2015, the international research community said it would be irresponsible to proceed to any germline editing without a consensus wide on society about the adequacy of the proposed demand. "