In case you missed the controversy, scientists recently claimed to have used CRISPR to alter the genome of a human embryo, which was then brought to an end. Specifically, they destroyed a gene involved in HIV transmission to enhance resistance to the disease.
Jiankui He, from China University of Science and Technology South, and his former senior adviser, Rice University physicist Michael Deem. The duo reimplanted the genetically modified embryos in the women who provided them, and one of them resulted in a successful delivery: the Lulu and Nana twins became the first people to be born with a genome clinically modified.
He justified his very controversial experience by publishing his own list of "Ethical Principles of Assisted Reproductive Technology" – but the scientific community in general did not buy it.
Thanks for not
By conducting these experiments, which resulted in the very first birth of humans with partially altered genomes, He and Deem violated several voluntary agreements made by genetic researchers. the Review of MIT technology reported that he is the subject of an investigation by the Chinese government and that his university has condemned his work. Deem is also the subject of an official Rice University investigation, since human gene editing is banned in the United States.
He was to speak at the Second International Human Genome Summit in the aftermath of the announcement of his experiences. The organizers of the event published a weak statement in the news section of the National Academies of Science section, essentially listing the voluntary conventions that he violated and stating that it was not yet clear whether his research whether or not they had "conformed to the guidelines" of the scientific consensus.
Others, including two of those who initially developed CRISPR, take a stronger stance against He and Deem's research. One of them, Feng Zhang of MIT, called for an official moratorium on human CRISPR experimentation. Subsequently, CRISPR co-inventor Jennifer Doudna of UC Berkeley called for skepticism that her research had not been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal, while asserting that CRISPR could be a powerful clinical tool if used responsibly.
Other geneticists around the world have spoken out against the experience of gene editing. Monday, Quartz About 120 scientists, most of them from China, signed an open letter stating that the research of Deem and him "can only be described as crazy".
Many other scientists have blamed He and Deem for operating without transparency, supervision or control. A lot, Quartz reported that the risks of modifying the human genome far outweigh the potential benefits.