Genetic Editing Kids Test: A Crazy Advance
Our reporter Liu Yuanyuan Li Liyun
Genetic editing has once again become the center of public opinion. On June 26, he declared Jiankui, biologist at the Southern University of Science and Technology, for the media that a couple of genetically modified twins were born in November and that the genetic editing enabled them to naturally fight AIDS after birth.
Many experts in life sciences told the Science and Technology Daily reporter that they were "shocked" and even "angry".
In the afternoon of the 26th, more than 120 biomedical researchers such as Bi Guoqiang at China University and Cai Xuyu in West China Hospital in Sichuan University issued a joint statement saying that the trial can only be described as "crazy".
Can not exclude potential health risks
According to the report, he used the Jiankui team CRISPR / Cas9 rendering technique to modify the CCR5 gene, which is one of the most important receptors for the HIV virus that invades the body cells.
Professor Li Fei, working on Life Science research at Sun Yat-Sen University, believes that this genetic editing study is "sloppy". One reason is that there are still some scientific issues that have not been solved, such as the possibility of causing other diseases.
According to reports, data show that approximately 10% of the population in the Nordic population has a natural CCR5 genetic engineering. People with this genetic mutation can close the most pathogenic HIV infection so that the virus can not invade human cells, which can naturally infect the HIV virus.
"It should be said that it can reduce the risk of AIDS, but this genetic edit can not completely imitate the specific loss of the CCR5 gene, so it is not clear if it really can reduce the risk of AIDS." Li Fei added that the human body Each gene has a corresponding function, and each gene has two copies. The complete knockout is completely different than the result of only one copy being eliminated, so redecoration has some potential health risks to the child. At present, this genetic edit study does not completely eliminate the possibility of this health hazard.
"What is the purpose of taking healthy fertilized eggs for experiments?" Huang Zhiwei, Dean of the School of Life Science and Technology at Harbin Institute of Technology, told the Science and Technology Daily reporter that CCR5 may have other functions and knocking out can cause damage to the immune system. .
"The benefits of this genetic manipulation for newborn babies are minimal but at the expense of genetic diseases that are simply unpredictable and manageable." Wang Liming, professor at the Life Sciences Institute at Zhejiang University, issued a joint statement. One of more than 120 researchers wrote.
Technical issues have not been resolved
Although the application of CRISPR / Cas9 in life sciences continues, Li Fei told reporters that there are still many technical problems in the clinical trial of genetically modified infants.
"There is no relevant information in this test, it solves the problem of chimerism," said Li Fei.
Han Jiankui presented that this genetic edit study was to inject Cas9 protein and a specific control sequence into a single cell-focussed egg with a 5 micron fine needle during the fertilized egg period.
Li Fei told the Science and Technology Daily Reporter daily that the cells were divided very quickly in the early stages, and it is difficult to confirm if the final state of the edited genes in the cells is the same as other cells. This makes it easy for people to become chimeras, which is not ethical in themselves.
"The other is the efficiency problem, which means it's hard to estimate how many cells and genes have been edited." Li Fei explained that the most important thing to note is the off-target effect, which means it is difficult to judge whether other genes will be affected.
Li Fei told the daily reporter Science and Technology that the efficiency problem is difficult to assess at the cell stage. It is possible for the child to judge after birth, but it is too late.
Ethical problems are the biggest torture
The ethical question is the most inevitable torture of this incident.
According to related reports, this genetic editing study has been reviewed by the Shenzhen Medical Medical Committee and Women and Children's Hospital.
Southern University of Science and Technology issued a statement in the afternoon of the 26th that the research activities were conducted outside of the school by Professor He Jiankui. He did not report to the school and the department of biology, and the school and biological department did not know about it. "For Professor Han Jiankui to use genetic engineering for human embryonic research, the academic institution's academic committee considers it to be seriously contrary to academic ethics and academic norms," said Southern University of Science and Technology.
The Shenzhen Medical Expert Group issued a statement stating that "the measures taken for ethical examination of biomedical research in humans" issued by the former National Committee on Health and Family Planning in 2016 clearly stated that "medical and health care institutions should be within three months from the date of establishment of the ethics committee. The authority's registration authority is registered and registered in the Medical Information Registration System. However, after the investigation, the Medical Ethics Committee in Shenzhen and Women's and Women's Hospital in the United States did not record the record.
The committee launched a survey on ethical issues related to the event on 26 and verified the authenticity of the ethical review of the research project reported by the media.
The International Stem Cell Research Association's 2016 guidelines for stem cell research and transformation applications suggest that researchers should continue to follow human embryonic growth in vitro for a maximum of 14 days. The guide supports genetic editing of human sperm, eggs or embryos in the laboratory under strict supervision. But it also emphasizes that it should not be applied to the clinic at this time.
"We urge relevant regulatory authorities and research-related entities to quickly fix and strictly monitor and conduct an extensive investigation and management of this incident and immediately release tracking information to the public." The above-mentioned more than 120 scientific researchers issue a joint statement saying that Pandora's box has been opened, and we can have a chance to close it before it is irreparable.
(At the interviewer's request, Li Fei is a pseudonym in the text)