The world’s first genetically edited babies have been born in China this month, according to Chinese researcher He Jiankui – who says he conducted the research along with US scientist Michael Deem, his advisor at Rice University, who has a “small stake” in He’s two Chinese genetics companies.
He has claimed in an AP exclusive report that twin girls born this month had their DNA altered with a powerful new tool which may pave the way for a future free of inherited diseases and undesirable traits, and may even extend one’s lifespan and reverse aging.
What’s more, Jiankui says that there is another gene-edited pregnancy in its early stages, according to Wired.
Lulu and Nana, the twin girls, aren’t the only children He’s group has Crispr’d. When pressed on the number of implantations that have taken place so far, the scientist disclosed that there is another potential pregnancy involving a gene-edited embryo. He hesitated to answer the question because the pregnancy is in an early stage. His research team has so far injected Crispr systems into 30 embryos that have developed to the blastocyst stage. -Wired
Some have denounced the alleged Chinese report as human experimentation, using methods strictly forbidden in the United States and most other countries.
The researcher, He Jiankui of Shenzhen, said he altered embryos for seven couples during fertility treatments, with one pregnancy resulting thus far. He said his goal was not to cure or prevent an inherited disease, but to try to bestow a trait that few people naturally have — an ability to resist possible future infection with HIV, the AIDS virus.
He said the parents involved declined to be identified or interviewed, and he would not say where they live or where the work was done. –AP
He’s claim has not been independently confirmed, nor published in a journal where it could be reviewed and vetted by other experts. The claim was made on Monday in Hong Kong to one of the organizers of an international conference on gene editing which kicks off on Tuesday, as well as in an earlier exclusive interview with the Associated Press.