UPDATED: CRISPR scientist in China claims his team's research has resulted in the world's first gene-edited babies
Update: The story is getting even more convoluted. When contacted by TechCrunch’s Rita Liao, a representative at the hospital that supposedly approved Jiankui He’s study stated “what we can say for sure is that the gene editing process did not take place at our hospital. The babies were not born here either.” She also said that the hospital is investigating the validity of the documents connected to the study on ChiCTR.
In what would represent a dramatic and ethically fraught escalation of CRISPR research, a scientist from a university in Shenzhen, China claims he has succeeded in helping create the world’s first genetically edited babies. Jiankui He told the Associated Press that twin girls were born earlier this month after he edited their embryos using CRISPR technology to remove the CCR5 gene, which plays a critical role in enabling many forms of the HIV virus to infect cells.
The AP’s interview with He was published shortly after a report earlier today by the MIT Technology Review that his research team at the Southern University of Science and Technology is using CRISPR technology to edit out the CCR5 gene and create children with resistance to HIV. The Technology Review report cited documents that are up on the Chinese Clinical Trial Registry’s (ChiCTR) website (here and here). The ChiCTR is a primary registry of the World Health Organization’s International Clinical Trial Registry.
It is important to note that there is still no independent confirmation of He’s research and that it has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal. His claims are certain to cause a stir, however, at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing, set to begin in Hong Kong on Tuesday. According to the Technology Review, the summit’s organizers were apparently not notified of He’s plans for the study, though the AP says He informed them today.
An American scientist, Michael Deem, also told the AP he worked with He on the project in China.
In his interview with the AP, He, who studied at Rice and Stanford before returning to China, said he felt “a strong responsibility that it’s not just to make a first, but also make it an example” and that “society will decide what to do next.”
According to documents linked by the Technology Review, the study was approved by the Medical Ethics Committee of Shenzhen HarMoniCare Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Its summary on the Chinese Clinical Trial Registry also said the study’s execution time is between March 7, 2017 to March 7, 2019, and that it sought married couples living in China who met its health and age requirements and are willing to undergo IVF therapy. The research team wrote that their goal is to “obtain healthy children to avoid HIV providing new insights for the future elimination of major genetic diseases in early human embryos.”
A table attached to the trial’s listing on the Chinese Clinical Trial Registry said genetic tests have already been carried out on fetuses of 12, 19 and 24 weeks gestational age, though it is unclear if those pregnancies include the one that resulted in the birth of the twin girls, whose parents wish to remain anonymous.
“I believe this is going to help the families and their children,” He told the AP, adding that if the study caused harm, “I would feel the same pain as they do and it’s going to be my own responsibility.”
In 2015, Chinese scientists at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou first edited the genes of a human embryo using CRISPR technology (the acronym stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats), which enables the removal of specific genes by acting as a very precise pair of “genetic scissors.” Though other scientists, including in the United States, have conducted similar research since then, the Southern University of Science and Technology’s study would be considered especially radical if it indeed has come to fruition. Many scientists and ethicists are concerned about CRISPR technology being abused to perpetuate eugenics or create “designer babies” if used on embryos meant to be carried to term.
2015年，中山大学的中国科学家首次利用CRISPR技术编辑了人类胚胎的基因(CRISPR是Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats的首字母缩写)，这种技术可以像一把非常精确的“基因剪刀”一样移除特定的基因。虽然自那以后，包括美国科学家在内的其他科学家也进行了类似的研究，但如果南方科技大学的研究真的取得了进展，人们也会认为它特别激进。许多科学家和伦理学家担心CRISPR技术会被滥用，以使优生学永续存在，或者如果用于打算妊娠的胚胎上，会产生“经过设计的婴儿”。
As in the United States and many European countries, using a genetically engineered embryo in a pregnancy is already prohibited in China, though the Technology Review points out that this guideline, which was issued to IVF clinics in 2003, may not carry the weight of the law.
In 2015, shortly after the Sun Yat-sen University experiment (which was conducted on embryos that were unviable because of chromosomal effects) became known, a meeting called by several groups, including the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, the Institute of Medicine, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of London, called for a moratorium on making inheritable changes to the human genome.
In addition to ethical concerns, Fyodor Urnov, a gene-editing scientist and associate director of the Altius Institute for Biomedical Sciences, a nonprofit in Seattle, told the Technology Review that He’s study is cause for “regret and concern” because it may also overshadow progress in gene-editing research currently being carried out on adults with HIV.
TechCrunch has contacted He for comment at his university email.
译文来源：三泰虎 http://www.santaihu.com/46594.html 译者：Jessica.Wu
John22 hours ago
Gene therapy has advanced in leaps, and bounds over the last decade. But genetic editing is a whole different ball game. I just hope these kids are ok, cause if they are not..
Dave G.21 hours ago
You can argue that the US should pursue this research as well for national security reasons. Who knows what uses this could have. Allowing China to pursue it alone could I give them an edge in ways we may not be able to foresee.
Kurt22 hours ago
I agree there needs to be stiff regulations on editing children’s DNA so we don’t separate society based on economics outside of free will. But to me this is a more effective vaccine, if the only purpose is stopping disease let’s set up regulation and keep this medical only.
Tri21 hours ago
So many silly comments - The technology is there - it will be used - it will be used to help people - So many people are scared of science - that is of course until you need it - If you were faced with a crippling disease or having a procedure performed using DNA technology - the vast majority will take the procedure - This might be step one - but lets say in step 100 they can solve a deformity that your child may have - wouldn't you try the procedure to try to give your child a chance at a normal life - don't be scared of science embrace it -
Trumptard Police22 hours ago
China has a long history of cloning. From Louis Vuitton hand bags to MAGA hats to Ivanka Trump coats
RepubliCONsMUSTDIE22 hours ago
I recommend watching it.
It's quite a good movie.
Robert22 hours ago
Before someone says can we, they should ask themselves - should we. Right now, scientists have no idea what the long term effects of what they are doing will be for the following generations. It is, perhaps, a noble goal to engineer people that are resistant to diseases but the body normally goes through its own mutations, some good and some bad. With edited genes, do they understand what might happen when the body has a mutation that involves this new human? Seems to me that the first thing the world needs to grapple with is overpopulation.
laptopexpert22 hours ago
Just the begining of genetic altered babies, a path toward human 2.0, 3.0, etc. They will keep getting better and better, won't they?
Adena22 hours ago
Considering the quality of much of the scientific and commercial products that come out of the Peoples Republic of China, I fear for the 'defects' that will crop up later...and won't be fixable or have replacement parts available. Good luck on taking the kids back to Babies-R-Us for a refund.
James W22 hours ago
Ahh reading these comments, we've sure become jealous of China and their progress!
Shanahan22 hours ago
At least China takes the risk and tries! We are too busy clinging to our Bibles to move forward with this technology! China's been making good progress in many things! Quality will still be an issue however!
Weldon21 hours ago
Once the Chinese perfect gene-editing, they will clone the most successful prototype.
David22 hours ago
They've been doing all sorts of "ethically questionable" things with human genetics for many decades, perhaps over a century or more. Use your imagination. Yup! I guarantee they've tried that, too.