Saturday , February 27 2021

Scientist defends "world's first gig in the world"

A Chinese scientist who claims to have created the world's first genetically-regulated baby has defended his work.

Chinese scientist He Jiankui speaks at the Second International Human Genome Regulation Summit in Hong Kong.

Chinese scientist He Jiankui speaks at the Second International Human Genome Regulation Summit in Hong Kong.
Photo: AFP

Speaking of the Hong Kong genome itself, he said Jiankui was "proud" of the change in twin genes.

Earlier this week, he announced that he had altered the DNA embryo to prevent them from working on HIV. However, his work has not been confirmed.

Many scientists condemned his publication. Such gene-regulating work is forbidden in most countries, including China.

Prof. University – Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen – said he did not know the research project and launched an investigation. He said he was on unpaid leave since February.

Professor He confirmed that the university was not aware, adding that he himself funded the experiment.

At the University of Hong Kong for the first time, he talked about the Human Genome Summit about his work from the performance.

He discovered that two girls – known as "Lulu" and "Nana" – were "born normal and healthy," adding that plans to monitor twins in the next 18 years.

He explained that eight couples – consisting of HIV-positive fathers and HIV-negative mothers – volunteered for an experiment; one couple later dropped out.

The professor also said that the study was submitted to the scientific review journal, although he did not call the magazine.

He also said that it was "another potential pregnancy" of gene edible at an early stage.

But he apologized that his research was "unexpectedly missed."

"Clinical examination has been stopped due to the current situation," he said.

Why is this controversial?

Crispr's gene editing tool, which he claimed to have used, is not new to the scientific world, and the first was discovered in 2012.

He worked with "molecular scissors" to alter a very specific part of the DNA – or cut it off, replacing it or tweaking it.

Editing genes could potentially help avoiding violent disease by removing or altering disturbing encoding in embryos.

However, experts are concerned to interfere with the embryo genome, not just individuals, but also future generations inheriting the same changes.

His recent requests have been widely criticized by other scientists.

Hundreds of Chinese scientists have also signed a letter on social media that condemned the survey, saying it was "decisive" against it.

"If true, this experiment is monstrous. Genetic sampling is experimental and is still associated with non-mission mutations, capable of causing genetic problems early and later in life, including cancer development," said Julian Savulescu, an expert in ethics at The University of Oxford, told the BBC.

"This experiment puts healthy normal children at risk of genetic modification without the real necessary benefit."

Many countries, including the United Kingdom, have laws that prevent the use of genes in embryos for assisted human reproduction.

Scientists can do a gene for editing research on rejection of IVF embryos, as long as they are immediately destroyed and not used for the baby.

Professor He was banned from experiment under Chinese laws, told state media deputy minister of science and technology Xu Nanping.

China allows in vitro testing of human embryonic stem cells for a maximum period of 14 days, Xu said.


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