November 29, 2018

CHINA: Chinese Scientist Claims He’s Created The World’s First 'Genetically-EDITED' Babies. Whaaat? A Genetically Modified (GMO) Human. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ๐Ÿ˜จ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

Daily Mail, UK
written by Harry Pettit
Sunday November 25, 2018

A scientist claims to have helped create the world's first genetically-modified humans during laboratory work in China.

The DNA of twin girls was altered with a powerful new tool capable of rewriting the very blueprint of life, Chinese researcher Dr He Jiankui says.

He claims the babies, named LuLu and Nana, were born a few weeks ago and have a resistance to infection with HIV, the AIDS virus.

A US scientist said he took part in the work in China, but this kind of gene editing is banned in the United States due to risks that altered DNA will warp other genes.

These potentially dangerous changes may then be passed down to future generations.

Gene editing is banned in Britain, the US many other parts of the world, and researchers said that, if Dr He's claims are true, the 'monstrous' experiment was 'not morally or ethically defensible.'

Dr Jiankui, of the Southern University of Science and Technology, in Shenzhen, said he altered embryos for seven couples during fertility treatments, with one pregnancy resulting thus far.

He said his goal was not to cure or prevent an inherited disease, but to try to bestow a trait that few people naturally have - an ability to resist infection with HIV.

He said the parents involved declined to be identified or interviewed, and would not say where they live or where the work was done.

There is no independent confirmation of Dr He's claim, and it has not been published in a journal, where it would be vetted by other experts.

He announced the research Monday in Hong Kong to an organiser of an international conference on gene editing that is set to begin Tuesday, and earlier in exclusive interviews with The Associated Press.

'I feel a strong responsibility that it's not just to make a first, but also make it an example,' he told the AP.

'Society will decide what to do next' in terms of allowing or forbidding such science.

Some scientists were astounded to hear of the claim and strongly condemned it.

It's 'unconscionable ... an experiment on human beings that is not morally or ethically defensible,' said Dr Kiran Musunuru, a University of Pennsylvania gene editing expert and editor of a genetics journal.

'This is far too premature,' said Dr Eric Topol, who heads the Scripps Research Translational Institute in California. 'We're dealing with the operating instructions of a human being. It's a big deal.'

'If true, this experiment is monstrous,' said Professor Julian Savulescu, Director of the University of Oxford's Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics.

'These healthy babies are being used as genetic guinea pigs. This is genetic Russian Roulette.'

However, one famed geneticist, Harvard University's Professor George Church, defended attempting gene editing for HIV, which he called 'a major and growing public health threat.'

'I think this is justifiable,' Professor Church said of that goal.

In recent years scientists have discovered a relatively easy way to edit genes, the strands of DNA that govern the body.

The tool, called CRISPR-cas9, makes it possible to operate on DNA to supply a needed gene or disable one that's causing problems.

It's only recently been tried in adults to treat deadly diseases, with all edits confined to that person, meaning they cannot be passed down to their children.

Editing sperm, eggs or embryos is different - the changes can be inherited.

In the US, it's not allowed except for lab research. China outlaws human cloning but not specifically gene editing.

Dr He Jiankui (HEH JEE'-an-qway), who goes by 'JK,' studied at Rice and Stanford universities in the US before returning to his homeland to open a lab at Southern University of Science and Technology of China in Shenzhen, where he also has two genetics companies.

The US scientist who worked with him on this project after Dr He returned to China was physics and bioengineering Professor Michael Deem, who was his adviser at Rice in Houston.

Professor Deem also holds what he called 'a small stake' in - and is on the scientific advisory boards of - Dr He's two companies.

The Chinese researcher said he practiced editing mice, monkey and human embryos in the lab for several years and has applied for patents on his methods.

Dr He said he chose to try embryo gene editing for HIV because these infections are a big problem in China.

He sought to disable a gene called CCR5 that forms a protein doorway that allows HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, to enter a cell.
Time Magazine
written by Alice Park
Tuesday November 27, 2018

It’s not the usual way that reputable scientists announce their breakthroughs to the world, but on Monday, Jiankui He released a video proclaiming that he had produced the world’s first human babies whose genomes were edited using the powerful technique called CRISPR. He had also previously spoken with the Associated Press about his study, which he says resulted in twin girls born with the first genomes edited by man.

The report was met with instant concern and skepticism by the scientific community. He’s experiment altered the genomes of embryos produced through IVF; their genetic changes will therefore be passed on to any future generations. What’s more, most experts in CRISPR are not convinced that the technology is ready — or safe — for treating humans.

“Given the current early state of genome editing technology, I’m in favor of a moratorium on implantation of edited embryos … until we have come up with a thoughtful set of safety requirements first,” Feng Zhang, one of the co-discoverers of CRISPR and from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, said in a statement responding to the report. “Not only do I see this as risky, but I am also deeply concerned about the lack of transparency surrounding this trial.”

Scientists also expressed concern that the report would negatively impact future research on using CRISPR to find new treatments for disease. “The premature use of gene-editing technology described today in China could set back legitimate efforts to prevent inherited disease,” says Shoukhrat Mitalipov, director of the Oregon Health & Science University center for embryonic cell and gene therapy.

In 2015, prominent members of the scientific community familiar with the technology, including Zhang and another co-discoverer, Jennifer Doudna from University of California, Berkeley, agreed to voluntarily stop research on using CRISPR in human embryos because the safety and long term consequences of the technology were too uncertain. The researchers support studies in which CRISPR is used to develop treatments that would affect cells that aren’t passed on to the next generation — i.e. anything except egg and sperm — but say that more research is needed before CRISPR is used to make changes in genomes that can be carried by generation after generation.

“It is imperative that the scientists responsible for this work fully explain their break from the global consensus that application of CRISPR-cas9 for human germline editing should not proceed at the present time,” Doudna said in a statement.

While editing the DNA of a human embryo is not currently allowed in the U.S., in 2017, an international committee of the National Academy of Sciences called for loosening the moratorium and allowing trials of CRISPR in human embryos, under strict oversight, to treat rare genetic diseases that can’t be addressed in any other way. In the U.K., officials approved studies of CRISPR in human embryos in 2016, but those embryos will not be transplanted to create a pregnancy. Those trials call for destroying the embryos after a week, since the technology’s safety remains unclear. In 2017, Mitalipov also published his work on using CRISPR to correct an inherited heart defect in human embryos. But unlike He, he did not transfer those embryos for pregnancy.

Alta Charo, professor law and bioethics at University of Wisconsin, says to TIME, “First-in-human experiments always require a particularly high degree of caution, as the need to generalize from data solely accrued from laboratory and animal studies adds a new dimension to the uncertainties around not only risk and possible benefit, but around how to predict the range of risks and how to evaluate their possible impact.”

He, on the other hand, has apparently jumped ahead and produced the first human babies born with CRISPR editing. He is on the faculty of Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen China, but in a statement released in response to He’s videos, the university said he is on unpaid leave from February 2018 to January 2021; officials did not provide a reason for the leave.

“The University was deeply shocked by this event and has taken immediate action to reach Dr. Jiankui He for clarification,” the officials said in the statement. “The research was conducted outside of the campus and was not reported to the University nor the Department [to which He belongs].” The statement went on to note that the university “believes that Dr. Jiankui He’s conduct in utilizing CRISPR/Cas9 to edit human embryos has seriously violated academic ethics and codes of conduct … The University will call for international experts to form an independent committee to investigate this incident, and to release the results to the public.”

Rice University is also launching a “full investigation” of the involvement of one of its researchers, Michael Deem, a professor of bioengineering, who said he worked with He on the experiment. “Rice had no knowledge of this work. Regardless of where it was conducted, this was as described in press reports, violates scientific conduct guidelines and is inconsistent with ethical norms of the scientific community and Rice University,” officials said in a statement.

CRISPR, first described in 2012, gives scientists the most precise and effective way to edit the human genome by snipping out offending mutations or genes and either allowing the genome to repair itself or providing researchers with the ability to insert new genetic material to correct disease genes. But studies suggest that controlling CRISPR in human cells remains a challenge; in some cases CRISPR may cut unintended parts of the genome.

In his promotional video, He describes targeting the CCR5 gene, which helps the HIV virus enter healthy human cells. He worked with seven heterosexual couples in which the male partner was HIV positive and the women were HIV negative. After the couples produced embryos through IVF, he used CRISPR to cut the CCR5 gene, disabling it in the hopes of making the embryos less vulnerable to HIV infection. He claims that of 22 embryos, 16 showed signs of successful CRISPR editing, and 11 were implanted, resulting in a single pregnancy with twin girls who were born in November. One twin, according to He’s tests, showed signs that both copies of the CCR5 gene it inherited (one from its mother and one from its father) were successfully altered, while the other twin showed that one version of the gene it inherited was altered.

That so-called mosaicism, in which some but not all of the embryo’s cells are altered, is troubling since in this case, it would mean that girl may not be entirely protected from HIV infection like her sister. That’s one of the reasons why researchers are concerned about the report. Normally such scientific milestones are reported in scientific journals complete with detailed descriptions of how the researcher accomplished the feat along with data supporting their claims. Without such documentation, it’s impossible to verify whether the girls indeed showed successful CRISPR editing or not. “Because the data have not been peer reviewed, the fidelity of the gene editing process cannot be evaluated,” said Doudna.

He, who created two companies based on his studies, is scheduled to present his findings at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing, and will certainly be the target of numerous questions from the leading gene-editing scientists in attendance.

Watch the movie Gattaca (1997). One of my favorite movies. It's not enough Communist China screwed up their Chinese female population with the one child policy they had forced upon their people for decades, now this. Instead of screwing with human DNA, how about find the cure for the HIV virus? I know the Global elitist love the HIV virus because it helps them curb the global population that they're so obsessed with containing. But come on man, now this.

You know, this reminds of Europe scientist creating a Genetically Modified Cow that produces lactose free milk. Instead of the other way around. Leaving the cow as nature intended and producing lactose free milk. So, basically, these Chinese Scientist have created a Genetically Modified (GMO) Human. (emphasis mine)

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