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Great genetic fiction by Dr. Hay

What did the Chinese entrepreneur do He is jiankui at
edit DNA two girls before birth

“If he really did this, which he did not show, he has no technical difficulties and no medical or scientific merit. This is comparable to what the Italian embryologist Severino Antinori did when he announced in 2002, also without evidence, that he cloned human embryos and implanted them in three women.

Both Antinori and He now used the method invented by others, and claim to have applied it to the sensitive soil of the river.human production, famous for a few days. Antinori stayed in the dustbin of history as a fake; The last time he was on the news, two years ago, it was because he was arrested, accused of forcibly removing a female egg from a 24-year-old nurse who worked at her clinic in Milan.

It's too early to know how He will be. But his excitement in the media again puts on the table old discussions about what is legal to do and what not to do. human embryosThere is a wide consensus among experts in the field of embryology, reproductive medicine, molecular biology and bioethics that medical and scientific advances are used to prevent and treat diseases. There is also the view that actions on eggs, sperm and embryos should not be a threat to future generations.

There is a broad consensus that DNA modification can be used to prevent and treat diseases.

These consensus were embodied in the Council of Europe Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, approved in Oviedo in 1997 and signed by 35 countries, which is the only legally binding international agreement on the protection of human rights in biomedicine. In its article 13, entitled “Intervention into the human genome,” it states that “intervention aimed at altering the human genome can only be carried out for preventive, diagnostic or therapeutic purposes and only if its purpose is not to introduce no changes in the genome nor descendant. "

An example that meets both requirements (medical goals and safety for future generations) is pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. The technique sanctioned in Spain by the Assistance Act is to analyze the DNA of the embryo before implanting it into the uterus to ensure that it does not carry a serious hereditary disease. On the other hand, cloning is illegal because it does not prevent or cure any disease, and, in addition, it may include changes that will be passed on to descendants.

Doctor's Experiment Does not meet any of the two requirements. The Chinese entrepreneur claims that his intervention is aimed at modifying the CCR5 gene so that people born with the edited genome cannot get AIDS. But one of the girls, who was allegedly born, is still vulnerable to HIV, because she has one of two copies of the gene that he knew or should have known before the embryo was implanted. In addition, there are other effective ways to prevent AIDS. By inactivating CCR5, girls' vulnerability to other viruses, such as influenza or West Nile, has increased. Therefore, the genetic publication, which he did, has no medical justification.

The use of the method in embryos is rejected because of the risk of causing unwanted damage to the next generation.

As for the second requirement, the method of genetic editing CRISPR-Cas9, which he used, includes the risk of unwanted mutations that will be passed on to subsequent generations. Therefore, it does not match. It was because of this risk of serious side effects that the UNESCO Committee on Bioethics claimed three years ago a moratorium on non-use of the genetic publication on eggs, embryos and sperm. In the same line, participants in the 1st International Summit on the Human Genetic Publication, which was attended by researchers from more than twenty countries, including China, in 2015. It is surprising that the forum that he decided to present with his experiment after grossly violating the recommendations made at this first congress is the summit of the II International Summit on Genetic Issues to be held this week in Hong Kong.

CRISPR-Cas9 technology, which allows DNA modification to be quickly, easily and cheaply, remains “a promising technology that has great potential for society,” said David Liu of the Broad Institute of EE in Hong Kong yesterday. United States, in the statements of the Associated Press.

But these benefits will come sooner to treat diseases in adult cells, where possible side effects will be limited than to prevent them in eggs, sperm and embryos. And, of course, experts in bioethics agree that the technique should not be used in any way to improve the human species by changing non-pathological signs, such as beauty, intelligence or skin color.

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