Hong Kong –
A Chinese researcher said on Monday that he continued with in vitro fertilization with a modified genome leading to twins that are resistant to HIV, causing ethical criticism by examining the act "dangerous" and "irresponsible".
He is Jiankui, a professor at Shenzhen University in southern China, posted on YouTube a video that announced the birth of a couple of weeks ago about the twin twins whose DNA was modified. so they are resistant to AIDS. He specified that the father is HIV positive.
An explorer, dressed at Stanford University in the United States and running a specialized genomic laboratory in Shenzhen, explained that he had The Crispr-Cas9 technique, titled "Genetic Scissors" which allows the removal and replacement of unwanted parts of the genome, since the error in the computer has been corrected.
Babies, called Lula and Nana, were born in vitro by modifying embryos before they were implanted in the mother's womb.
"Immediately after injecting male sperm into the egg cell, the embryologist injected the Crispr-Cas9 protein that was responsible for modifying the gene to protect girls from future HIV infections," explained Jiankui.
DNA modification genetically can be useful for avoiding the disease, but this practice is problematic because genetic modification will succeed the next generation.
MIT Technology Review recalled that "technology has ethical responsibility".
The announcement of this medical experiment took place on the eve of the Hong Kong World Genome Experts Conference, during which a Chinese researcher had to present his results in more detail.
However, after receiving the criticism, his intervention at this genetic congress is not guaranteed.
This self-proclaimed medical experiment Not confirmed independently. The Chinese team did not publish the results in the scientific journal.
– "very problematic" experiment –
After publication, a large number of Chinese scientists and institutions criticized this experiment.
The university in which he worked on reports that he had stopped receiving his salary since February, and considered that reconstitution with a modified genome constituted "a violation of the ethical criteria of the academy and its norms".
"This research has been conducted outside of the university framework," said the South East Science and Technology University in a statement Monday.
A hundred Chinese scientists have published a joint statement in which they criticized the experiment and asked to amend the law on in vitro fertilization.
In addition, international researchers have criticized that the publication was posted through videos on YouTube
"The announcement of these results in a video on YouTube is a very problematic scientific practice," said Nicholas Evans, professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Lowell in the United States, working on bioethical issues.
"This shifts the controls on which many scientific advances are based, such as peer evaluation," AFP added.
Whether it is published or not, the subject is launched "serious ethical concern", says Sarah Chan, of the University of Edinburgh, quoted Media Science Center.
"The realization of such claims, obviously intentionally to seek maximum controversy (…) is irresponsible," he added.
Jiankui did not immediately answer AFP questions. (I)