A Chinese researcher raised eyebrows after claiming to have created twin gene-edited baby girls. He claims that the girls have been edited or altered with CRISPR-Cas9 in such a way that it will keep them from future infections and the AIDS virus. The scientist He Jiankui told the Associated Press about the development at an international conference. Gene editing has always been a subject of great controversy in the medical field. It’s unclear whether there’s a grain of truth to Jianku’s claims. But the scientific community is already appalled at the thought and scientists have been calling it a “rogue human experimentation.”
The controversial experiment has been carried with the powerful gene-editing tool that alters the foetal DNA. Although the technique has been considered a medical possibility, it is forbidden in many countries, including the US due to ethical concerns. After Jiankui’s claims, over 120 Chinese scientists have come forward to condemn the experiment in a letter, saying that it dents China’s reputation in the scientific community. World’s First Genetically Edited Babies-Twin Baby Girls Created, Claims Chinese Researcher.
Unlike the US, China doesn’t ban gene editing on embryos. It, however, has strict guidelines against implanting human embryos used for research into the bodies of humans or animals for reproduction.
More than 40 lawyers have demanded an investigation into He’s claims to check for violations of the law. They have even called for protecting the twin girls Lulu and Nana. A total of 140 HIV researchers have released a statement condemning He’s claims. In a Rare Genetic Syndrome, an 11-Year-Old Girl Got Most of Her Genes from Father & Almost None from Mother.
The matter was also discussed on Chinese social media site Weibo, where netizens debated the ethical aspects of the research and whether it will lead to parents demanding “designer babies.” Gene editing is considered controversial because it can change the gene of a single person, his or her progeny and eventually, the entire human race.
Faced by criticism, the Chinese government has ordered a probe into the Jiankui’s claims. A hospital at Shenzhen, China where the researcher received the nod of approval from an ethics board has distanced themselves from the controversy and has lodged a report with the police.