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A Chinese scientist would create the first genetically modified babies in the world

Controversy And doubt, it's a reaction to the announcement that a A Chinese scientist would create the first genetically modified babies in the world so they are resistant a certain diseases, using technique of genetic release Crispr.

The controversy began when specialized publications, such as the American Journal MIT Technology Review they repeated the study of scientists He Jiankui, who began broadcasting videos on YouTube this week, November 25th, in which he claimed to have modified twins genes.

According to a Chinese researcher, girls, Lulu and Nana, "They were born healthy weeks ago"Thanks in vitro fertilization with genetic modification technology "which will prevent them from getting infected with HIV".

In these videos, he claims to have used the Crispr / Cas9 technique and justifies an experiment that suggests that genetic modification "It is not the goal of eliminating genetic diseases"But" to give girls natural ability for resistance at a possible future HIV infection"

To achieve his goal, he claims he has "excluded" the CCR5 gene that forms a protein that allows HIV to enter the cell and in practice implies improvement of DNA.

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

University "shocked"

However, he University of Science and Technology of the South from the city Shenzhen On Monday, November 26, in his testimony, he challenged his professor and emphasized that I was not even aware of this project.

The institution said she felt "deeply shocked by the incident"And he called on, in the absence of February this year, to give explanations as soon as possible.

"The university will meet international experts to investigate this incident, which is a serious violation of ethics i academic standards", She said the institution about the project, which also caused suspicion of its credibility, because to date it has not been published in any scientific journal.

For his part, the press China On Monday, he admitted that the study sparked controversy between academics and the public across the country.

Newspapers China Daily phenomena concern "ethical issues and their effectiveness" and reveals that parents are two babies of people with HIV, citing Bai Hua, the head of Baihualin, a non-governmental organization dealing with people with ailments.

Ethical testing

In the meantime, more than 120 academics from the scientific community China said in a statement published on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, that "any attempt" to change in human embryos through genetic modification "crazy" and that the birth of these babies is "high risk".

"The government must take it fast legislative measures strictly supervise such research, "Chinese scientists added.

The controversy comes a day before researchers in this area begin an important meeting on the modification of the genome, which will be held from November 27 to 29 in Hong Kong.

On a global level, the magazine Nature joined on November 26th a discussion and in one article claims that this action caused "anger"Between scientific community international and that, if true, would "constitute a significant leap in the use of human genome modification".

"It's too early, dangerous and irresponsible," said Joyce Harper, a researcher at the University College London.

"This experiment relies on normal and healthy children at risk without any necessary rights," the magazine said.

Nature points out that this type of tool is only used so far to study its benefits in eliminating disease-causing mutations and adds that the scientific community "longs for" the creation of ethical guidelines long before the case arises.

In 2016, a group of Chinese scientists became pioneers in the use of humans, especially in patients with lung cancer, Crispr genetic modification technology, according to the report of Nature magazine.

However, scientists in the UK have found that Crispr gene editing technology can cause more cell damage than previously believed, according to a study published this year by the same magazine.

With information from EFE / Photo: RCN Radio


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