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Monstrous: Scientist has changed baby genes

The Chinese scientist claims to have created the first genetically modified babies, but the profession is quite suspicious and shocked.

Professor On Jankuy caused public hate when he announced that he had changed the genes of twins born several weeks ago. He explained that he changed genes during artificial fertilization and thus protected embryos from the HIV virus.

His allegations, transmitted by the Associated Press, were not confirmed, and they were sparked by rage and anger among other doctors who called this idea – a monstrous one.

Genital change on people is prohibited in most countries.

"Designated babies"

Professor On, who studied at Stenford in the United States and works in a lab in southern China's Shenzhen city, claims to have used genetic engineering tools to make two twins – Lulu and Nana.

It will monitor their development over the next 18 years.

He says eight pairs, where the father of HIV is positive, and whose mother does not have this virus, reported on this experiment. Meanwhile, one couple retired.

She allegedly used her money to finance this experiment.

The professor said the lecture was handed over to a scientific journal for publication but did not reveal the name of the journal.

She claims she managed to remove the gene named CCR5, so girls are HIV-resistant if they come into contact with the virus.

The university on which the professor is working claims that none of the officers were informed about these experiments
He says his work focuses on creating disease-resistant babies and does not want to "design babies" that would have perfectly beautiful eyes or high intelligence coefficients.

"I understand that my job is controversial – but I think the family needs that technology and I'm ready to be criticized for them," the doctor said in the AP video release.

How does genetic change work?

KRISPR, a biological system for DNA changes, was discovered in 2012.

Scientists can use it for precise DNA changes.

KRISPR scans the gene in search of the appropriate site and then uses the Kas9 protein as a molecular DNA scissors.

Scientists use it in the lab to find and remove defective genes in human cells that cause the disease.

Gene regulation can potentially help in the fight against hereditary diseases by removing or altering problematic genes in embryos.

But experts are concerned that genetic modification will change the genes not only for individuals but also for future generations.

Many countries, including the United Kingdom, have laws that prevent genetic modification of embryos.

Who participated

All organizations called upon to assist him in the research, including the hospital – deny that they are involved in gene change.

The University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen claims they are not familiar with this research project and will launch an investigation.

Scientists say that if the reports were true, the Chinese doctor went too far, for without justification he experimented with healthy embryos.

Robert Winston, full professor of fertility research at the Royal College in London, says "disrespect of science if the report is false", and claims that the doctor is "extremely irresponsible."

"If true, he has violated all the rules," he adds.

Dr. Dusko Ilic, a stem cell specialist at the same university, says that "if this can be called ethical, their perception of ethics is very different from the rest of the world."

He notes that HIV can be cured and that if the infection is controlled by drugs, there is almost no risk that parents will transmit a virus to the baby.

"Too risky"

Professor Julian Savulescu, an ethics expert at Oxford University, says, "If it's really implemented, this experiment is monstrous. The embryos were healthy – they do not have any known illnesses.

"Every genetic modification is experimental and is still associated with numerous mutations that can cause genetic problems initially, but later in life, including cancer start.

"This experiment puts healthy normal children at risk without any known benefits."

Scientists say that genetic change in a child could be justified in the future, but should be strictly controlled before it is approved.

It is now possible to conduct embryonic disturbance research during the artificial fertilization process, but this material is destroyed after the experiment and is not used to make the baby.

(BBC News in Serbian)

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