Someone editing the DNA of human embryos was probably unavoidable

Chinese researcher stakes claim to world’s first genetically edited babies

He defended the work, saying gene editing would help protect the girls from infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The gene modification was done with the help of CRISPR, a gene-editing tool that is cheap and easy to use. "Lulu and Nana were just a single cell when the surgery removed the doorway through which HIV enters to infect people". The babies in question were born in China earlier this month, The Associated Press reported.

The hospital claimed to have approved Dr.

The Shenzhen Health and Family Planning Commission said it had not received an ethical assessment application for the study.

There is no independent confirmation of He's claim and he has not yet published in any scientific journal where it would be vetted by experts.

Southern University of Science and Technology said on Monday that it was not aware of the research, as He did not report it to the school. According to Feng Zhang, a molecular biologist from the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the results of the trials were not "handled in a transparent way". In a statement, the university said it was unaware of his work, emphasizing that it was not conducted on campus.

He's claims have neither been independently verified nor peer-reviewed.

The editing of human DNA is banned in some countries, including the United States, and tightly controlled in others.

Concerns have been raised about how He says he proceeded, and whether participants truly understood the potential risks and benefits before signing up to attempt pregnancy with edited embryos. "It's not known if those pregnancies were terminated, carried to term, or are ongoing".

But Chinese law does not mention the use of Crispr, the revolutionary gene-editing technique that Dr He used to alter the twins' genetic code.

He also faces probes by the Shenzhen City Medical Ethics Expert Board and the Chinese Academy of Science's academic division.

Sohnee Ahmed, president of the Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors, added that he hopes scientists will now "double-down to emphasize this is something that should not be happening at this time, not without any kind of oversight".

"It is extremely unfair to the vast majority of Chinese scholars who are diligent in scientific research and innovation". "This is not something for a scientist on their own, or even a group of scientists to decide", Baylis, a professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, told CTV News.

He's alleged tinkering of humanity's biological architecture was first revealed in a YouTube video this week that sent shockwaves through the biomedical community.

Scientists outside of China have been equally critical of He's work warning that modifying healthy embryos in children was irresponsible. Opposing the opinion of the medical community, however, a recent study by the Sun Yat-Sen University in China found that around 60% of Chinese people have a favorable view of gene editing for disease therapy.

"There are many effective ways to prevent HIV in healthy individuals: For example, protected sex".

Scientists must first target a particular gene sequence they're interest in.

On Monday, more than 120 scholars from prestigious universities and institutes from China and overseas such as Tsinghua University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology strongly condemned the research in a signed statement, saying it lacks effective ethics oversight and amounts to human experiments. Such changes to a person's DNA can pass to future generations and risks harming other genes. They also posted quotations from the late British scientist Stephen Hawking, who spoke of the "significant political problems" posed by humans who have not been genetically modified. Annas also asserted that He is "unqualified as a physicist to deal with patients, touch them, or get consent from them for a medical procedure (we don't know about the physicians involved, but on the surface, they seem to have acted unethically as well)".

He called on the United Nations to convene a meeting to discuss heritable gene editing to promote worldwide agreement on when it might be OK.

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