A team of Chinese researchers announced they have created the first genetically modified babies, born in Shenzhen, a few kilometers from Hong Kong
According to information published by Associated Press, a team of Chinese researchers claims to have created the first babies released with CRIPSR-Cas9, born in Shenzhen, a few kilometers from Hong Kong.
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In a video the leader of the investigation, He Jiankui, professor in excellence of the University of Science and Technology of the South of Shenzhen (China), revealed, that next to his team altered, several embryos in seven processes of in vitro fertilization.
To do this, the researchers recruited couples from assisted reproduction centers, convincing them to be the parents of the first genetically modified babies. However, so far only the birth of two twins, called Lulú and Nana, has been confirmed.
According to the medical genetic journal, the CRISPR-Cas9 technology allows people's genes to be edited, eliminating dangerous sequences either directly or through the insertion of new DNA fragments in substitution of the deleted ones.
Although this process has already been carried out on other occasions, this is the first time in history that the embryos are implanted and a pregnancy that is successfully completed is achieved.
In a previous interview with Reuters, he said his goal was to give babies "lifelong protection" against HIV, cholera, and smallpox.
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Molecular biologist Lluís Montoliu, from the National Biotechnology Center, told the Sinc Agency that "Assuming that everything he tells us is true, we would be faced with an experiment of colossal irresponsibility because from here to eugenics there is a step." However, he asks for skepticism and calm towards the news.
The scientific community is also concerned that the experiment does not have a therapeutic application: "It does not serve to correct a genetic anomaly of the embryo that could lead to a serious and incurable pathology, it is a genetic improvement experiment. They are not curing people but creating people with different abilities, "says Montoliu.
The University of Science and Technology of the South of the city of Shenzhen has assured to know nothing of the project and has warned that this investigation is a "serious violation of the ethics and the academic standards".
That is why the National Health Commission of China is "very concerned" and ordered the provincial health authorities "to investigate immediately and clarify the matter." "We have to be responsible for the health of the people and we will act on this according to the law," he said in a statement. Also, according to the newspaper Publico, the medical ethics committee of Shenzhen has opened an investigation.
LatinAmerican Post | Luisa Fernanda Báez Toro
Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza
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