Published: Mon, December 03, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Scientist who claims he edited twins' genes apologises … for result being leaked

Scientist who claims he edited twins' genes apologises … for result being leaked

Heh Zankuu scientist from the University in Shenzhen announced on Monday in Hong Kong that were born into the world first genetically modified babies - twin girls, reports the Chronicle.info with reference on Paranormal news. In one of those videos, He strongly objects to calling children whose genes have been edited "designer babies" and answers his own question, "Why HIV?" with "safety and value", noting that 100 million people have a "natural genetic variation" in the gene CCR5 that he altered with what he calls "gene surgery".

He Jiankui, largely unknown until yesterday, is an associate professor at Shenzhen's Southern University of Science and Technology of China (南方科技大学 or SUSTC).

The issue of editing human DNA is extremely controversial, and only allowed in the USA in laboratory research - although United States scientists said a year ago that they had successfully edited the genetic code of piglets to remove dormant viral infections. "Jiankui He is supposed to be working on new single-molecule DNA sequencing technologies". Musunuru also said there's evidence other genes were edited unintentionally, potentially increasing the twins' risk for cancer. But Darnovsky and her colleagues said that argument is moot, as the kids wouldn't have been affected by their father's HIV status anyway.

The gene editing involved knocking out a protein called CCR5 that HIV uses to enter the immune system and Dr Feng said removing that protein could leave children vulnerable to West Nile virus.

A union of Chinese scientists issued a statement saying it "resolutely opposes so-called scientific researches and biotech applications that violate the spirit of science and ethics", Xinhua said.

Scientists sharply criticized He's work and many institutions distanced themselves from him.

"It is a great blow to the global reputation and development of biomedical research in China", said the statement posted on social media platform Weibo. The investigations came quickly in a country that has tended to be more open to using gene editing in human medicine than others. In time, gene editing may lead to a phenomenon called mosaicism, in which a person's cells (which usually have uniform genetic make-ups) become a mixture of altered and unaltered genes, which can lead to disease in itself.

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Daley spoke Wednesday at an worldwide conference in Hong Kong, where the Chinese scientist, He Jiankui of Shenzhen, also is scheduled to speak.

If it is true, the experiment is deeply controversial.

And American biochemist David Liu - a co-inventor of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology that He said he used to alter the gene - said the procedure was unnecessary.

He received his PhD at Rice University in Houston, Texas, and worked as a postdoctoral research fellow in Stephen Quake lab at Stanford University according to the site. The major concern is that any edits will be passed on to offspring, thus making their way into the gene pool.

The ministry "firmly opposes" such gene-editing and has "already demanded that the relevant organisation suspend the scientific activities of relevant personnel", Xu said. The first modification of human embryos was reported by another Chinese team in May 2015. "We set out stringent criteria that would need to be met" to justify embryo editing, he said.

CRISPR is cheap and easy to deploy, but scientists are still debating the ethics of using it in human beings.

At around 3 to 5 days old, a few cells were taken from the embryo and checked if it was possible to edit them.

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