Friday , October 7 2022

"Obviously, it's not ethical": shock to re-edited children's requirements | Science


Researchers have expressed anger and doubt about a Chinese geneticist's claim to have edited the twin girls' genes before birth, when authorities ordered investigations in the experiment.

A global boast began after the genetic researcher He Jiankui claimed in a video published on YouTube on Monday that he had used the Crispr-Cas9 rescue tool to modify a particular gene in two embryos before placing them in their womb's womb.

He said that the genomes had changed to inactivate a gene called CCR5, blocking the pathway used by the HIV virus to enter cells.

Some researchers at the International Human Resource Summit, which began on Tuesday in Hong Kong, said they were afraid that the scientist had announced his work without following scientific protocols, including publishing his findings in a peer-reviewed journal. Others cited the ethical problems that arose by creating significantly improved people.

Qiu Renzong, a bioethicist and emeritus professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, said he decided to work outside established and supervised scientific protocols could corrupt the reputation of Chinese science.

"It's obviously not ethical," said Qiu, after publicly criticizing his work before the hundreds of people who participated. Qiu said that he had university, Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, had refused his request to carry out the experiment. It led Stanford-trained Han to find a private hospital outside the academic system to apply his research. "It's obvious that it's a fraud," said Qiu. "Maybe he created a form and found that people would write it."

Crispr, or to give it its full name, Crispr-Cas9, allows researchers to precisely direct and edit bits of the genome. Crispr is a guide molecule made of RNA, which allows targeting a specific site of interest to the DNA double helix. The RNA molecule is bound to Cas9, a bacterial enzyme that acts as a pair of "molecular scissors" to cut the DNA at the exact point required. This allows researchers to cut, paste and remove simple letters of genetic code.

China's National Health Commission has ordered officials to investigate and verify his claims. In addition, the Health and Family Planning Commission in Shenzhen, where the researcher worked, said that it examined the ethical issues when the reviewed process that followed in his work.

Feng Zhang, a molecular biologist at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and one of the inventors of Crispr technology, demanded that the results be published so that the science community could investigate his work.

"I do not think it was handled in an open way. Especially since the first time I heard it was by reading it in the magazine, Zhang said." And I think transparency is extremely important. Especially for new experimental treatments. "

If his statements are true, the twins would pass on the transformed DNA to some offspring they have, as several researchers say would create a variety of ethical and medical problems.

"There is something that will have consequences in our lives," said Mohammed Ghaly, a professor of Islam and Biomedical Ethics at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Doha, Qatar. "We end up with great ethical questions … the decision about these twin girls was not made by them but by anyone else. The changes that happened to them will remain in their offspring for future generations.

"Are we able to make such decisions with long-term effects that go beyond our lives and our grandchildren?"

Some researchers were careful to condemn He and his work without knowing more details. "There's basically nothing else to do [genome] edits in adult humans compared with the embryo, "said a conference participant Eben Kirksey, associate professor of anthropology at Deakin University in Victoria, Australia.

But Kirksey agreed that it raised difficult ethical issues. "It risks creating a new genetically modified elite … that can not get sick but pass it on to other people."

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