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PC Revue | In China, the first genetically engineered twins were born. Scientists around the world are furious



A Chinese scientist has announced that he has helped create the first genetically engineered twins in the world that were born this month. His statement caused shock and anger among scientists around the world. Jiankui, a researcher at the South University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, said he had fertilized a woman with embryos whose genes were modified to protect themselves from HIV infection.

in a video released on YouTube says girls are healthy and are now home with their parents. Sequencing of DNA has shown that editing works and only changes the target gene, says the researcher. If true, the birth of twins would be a significant – albeit controversial – leap in the application of genomic modification. So far, the use of these tools in embryo is limited to research, most commonly to research the benefits of using technology to remove mutations that cause human germline disease.

Documents published in the China Clinical Trials Register show that the popular CRISPR-Cas9 genome was used to ban the gene called CCR5, which allows HIV to enter the cell.

Fjodor Urnov, a genetic engineering scientist at the Altius Institute for Biomedical Science in Seattle, who also uses CCR5 genome modification tools, but not in embryos but in HIV patients, says there are "safe and effective ways" of using it genetic for the protection of people from HIV, but they do not include the treatment of embryonic genes.

The Chinese university said in a statement on November 26 that it did not know about the experiments the scientist did during his vacation and outside the university space. More than 100 Chinese biomedical scientists have published an online statement condemning Jiankui's accusations and urging Chinese authorities to investigate the case and introduce strict regulations of such practices.

Recent studies have shown that the public supports genetic modification with the aim of modifying mutations that cause the disease. In December 2017, the Nuffield Bioethnic Council, an independent advisory committee based in London, announced a survey of 319 people. Almost 70% of them support genetic manipulation to allow infertile couples to have children or to turn the mutation associated with the embryo.

Larger research by 4196 Chinese citizens, released last month, saw a similar level of support for gene modification, but only to avoid the disease. Respondents, however, refused to adapt to increasing IQ or sports abilities or changing skin color.

source: nature.com.

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