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Chinese scientists say that genetically modified babies News from El Salvador



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Controversies and doubts, this is the reaction to the announcement that a Chinese scientist would have created the first genetically modified children in the world to be resistant to certain diseases using the genetic editing technique CRISPR.

The controversy began when specialized publications, such as the American magazine MIT Technology Review, resumed the study of scientist He Jiankui, who began yesterday to broadcast videos from Youtube. He claimed to have modified the twins genes.

According to the Chinese researcher, the girls, Lulu and Nana, "were born healthy a few weeks ago" due to in vitro fertilization with genetic modification technology "that will prevent them from becoming HIV-infected."

In these videos, he claims to have used the CRISPR / Cas9 technique and justifies the experiment indicating genetic modification "It is not meant to eliminate genetic diseases," but rather "to give girls the natural ability to resist a possible future HIV infection."

To achieve your goal, I claim to have "stopped" the CCR5 gene, that they form a protein that allows entry into an HIV cell and which, in practice, involves improving DNA.

"I understand that my work is controversial, but I think families need this technology and I'm willing to accept criticism for them," he says in one of the videos.

However, the University of Science and Technology South of Shenzhen City He challenged his teacher today in a statement and stressed that he was not even aware of this project.

The institution said it was "deeply shocked by the case" and asked He, on leave this February, to come as soon as possible to explain.

"The university will convene international experts to investigate this incident, which is a serious violation of ethical and academic standards", said the institution about the project, which also raised doubts about its veracity, because so far it has not been published in any scientific journal.

In turn, the Chinese press has today acknowledged that the study has sparked controversy between academics and the public across the country.

The China Daily highlights the concerns "for ethical and efficacious reasons", and reveals this parents of the two children are HIV, citing Bai Hua, the head of Baihualin, a non-governmental organization dealing with people with this disease,

Meanwhile, over 120 Chinese academics have said in a statement about Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, that "any attempt" to make changes to human embryos by genetic modification is "crazy", and that the birth of these children bears "a high risk".

"The government needs to take rapid legislative action to strictly supervise this research," Chinese scientists added.

The controversy comes the day before scientists in this field begin an important meeting on the genome change that will take place from November 27-29 in Hong Kong.

Worldwide, Nature has joined the debate today and in an article it claims that the ad has caused "Indignation" between the international scientific community and, if true, "It would be a significant leap in the use of human genome modification."

"It is premature, dangerous and irresponsible" Joyce Harper, a researcher at University College London, told this publication.

"This experiment expose normal and healthy children to risks without any real benefit," the magazine said.

Nature shows that this type of instrument has been used so far to study its benefits in eliminating disease-causing mutations and adds that the scientific community "has long asked for" the creation of ethical guidelines long before such a case.

In 2016, a group of Chinese scientists have become pioneers in the use of CRISPR genetic modification technology in humans, especially in lung cancer patients, as Nature magazine reported.

However, UK scientists have found that CRISPR gene editing technology can cause more damage to cells than previously thought, according to a study published this year by the same journal.

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