Thursday, April 18, 2024

After the trauma of twin girls, the technology to genetically modify babies enters a critical phase.


For people with genetic disorders or who worry about the possibilities for their children, the idea of ​​modifying a human gene is both exciting and potentially life-saving.

But the idea, discussed by hundreds of biologists and doctors at a science summit in London on Monday, also has significant ethical issues.

The site says NPR In late 2018 in Hong Kong – Hu Jianqi, a research biophysicist at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, shocked the audience by declaring it genetically the last time the world’s scientists gathered to discuss the pros and cons of gene editing. Modified babies “born.” For the first time—twin girls born from embryos that Jiangui modified using CRISPR gene-editing technology.

As the girls’ father was HIV positive, he justified his actions by saying he believed he was protecting the girls from the virus that causes AIDS.

But his announcement was immediately condemned as reckless human experimentation.

Critics said little research has been done on whether it is safe to alter embryos’ genes in this way.

Ultimately, a Chinese court sentenced him to three years in prison for violating medical regulations, the website reported. But more than four years after his stunning announcement, scientists continue to improve their gene-editing capabilities.

Scientists have made progress using CRISPR technology to treat or better understand many diseases, including devastating genetic disorders like sickle cell disease and genetically susceptible conditions like heart disease and the more common cancer, the site says.

In turn, scientists have discovered new evidence about the potential risks and drawbacks of gene editing, and they have also come up with sophisticated techniques that are safer and more accurate.

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According to scientists who spoke at the site, one of the biggest remaining challenges is the ethical question of whether scientists should try again to create genetically modified babies by modifying DNA in human sperm, eggs or embryos.

Such technologies, if successful, could help families affected by devastating genetic disorders, the site says. But the fear is that the bug could create new genetic diseases that could be passed down generations.

Some scientists are concerned with opening the door to “designer babies” — children whose parents try to pick and choose their traits.

Despite these concerns, some critics say the debate over the past five years has shifted from whether barriers to genetic modifications should be lifted to safely overcoming technological hurdles — and to the diseases doctors are trying to eradicate.

Scientists who spoke to NPR say it could encourage others to have genetically modified children, and the issue of “equality” also challenges whether the future will allow the rich to have “supernatural” children, while the poor may not.

Nadia Barnett
Nadia Barnett
"Award-winning beer geek. Extreme coffeeaholic. Introvert. Avid travel specialist. Hipster-friendly communicator."

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