Up­roar en­sues on gene-edit­ing of ba­bies

China Daily European Weekly - - China News - Zhou Mo in Shen­zhen con­trib­uted to this story.

Sci­en­tist He Jiankui’s claim to have ge­net­i­cally al­tered twins against HIV has led to global out­rage and prompted calls for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion

and Pre­ven­tion, says: “Ge­netic edit­ing tech­nol­ogy is far from ma­ture and could have un­fore­seen con­se­quences for the sub­jects.”

Some re­searchers are try­ing to use ge­netic edit­ing tech­nol­ogy to treat peo­ple in­fected with HIV, so the virus will not repli­cate and be trans­mit­ted to oth­ers, he says. “An­i­mal ex­per­i­ments should be done to as­sess gains and risks for the sub­jects, be­fore the pos­si­bil­ity of do­ing this with hu­mans.”

Some sci­en­tists in Hong Kong for the sum­mit said they thought it could in­duce se­ri­ous prob­lems for a per­son’s im­mune sys­tem, while oth­ers think peo­ple should not be overly scared be­cause it would not af­fect the core genome.

Tsui Lap-chee, pres­i­dent of the Academy of Sciences of Hong Kong, says that if one gene is edited, it will af­fect oth­ers that in­ter­act with it. And the whole genome, a col­lec­tion of genes, may also be af­fected.

Robin Lovell-Badge, head of the Di­vi­sion of Stem Cell Bi­ol­ogy and De­vel­op­men­tal Ge­net­ics at the Fran­cis Crick In­sti­tute, says “gene edit­ing is not some­thing to be scared about”, and he doesn’t think what He has done will af­fect a hu­man’s core genome. Side ef­fects may not be very se­ri­ous, he says, as there are mil­lions of healthy peo­ple with the ex­act same mu­ta­tion. Con­tact the writ­ers at wangx­i­[email protected]­nadaily.com.cn

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