Below is a review article by the Bioethics Observatory, which provides details on the use of the CRISPR genetic editing tool as well as a review of the ethical implications.
We bring this article to the attention of our readers for informational purposes only
After the statement from Chinese geneticist Jiankui He that he and his team had achieved the birth of the first genetically modified babies (that our Observatory covered extensively, see HERE), the Chinese government ordered an official investigation that has now confirmed the veracity of these facts.
Jiankui and his team used the CRISPR gene editing tool to inactivate the CCR5 gene in human embryos, giving them immunity to the AIDS virus. Two of these embryos were transferred to the patient, with the pregnancy progressing and resulting in the birth of the first babies with a modified genome. Another pregnancy is also currently underway.
The investigation has revealed that the Chinese scientist falsified documents to pretend that the experiment had been approved by an Ethics Committee. He also used blood samples from other individuals so that the tests would not detect that the men participating in the experiment were HIV positive, as in China, HIV carriers are banned from participating in vitro fertilization cycles. The university where he worked has announced that he has been formally dismissed.
International scientific community opinion
These experiments have been widely criticized by the international scientific community, because the technique is not safe and the changes will be transmitted from generation to generation. Furthermore, in a recent issue of journal The Lancet, the Chinese Academy of Engineering, the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and a group of HIV researchers have joined the criticisms, classing the facts as contrary to ethics, morality and legality, and proposing the implementation of appropriate regulations and practical guidelines. They also recommend that the privacy of the babies be protected.
Counterproductive effects of the modification
It is also interesting that the HIV researchers stress how inactivation of the CCR5 gene not only does not mean the cure of any disease (it is a preventive modification),