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Great genetic mind Dr. He

What Chinese entrepreneurs have done He is Jiankui for
edit DNA two girls before birth

-If he really did, he hasn't shown it – he has no technical difficulties and no medical or scientific benefits. This compares to what the Italian embryo, Severino Antinori did when he announced in 2002, also without evidence, that he had cloned a human embryo and implanted it in three women.

Both Antinori at the time and He now uses techniques created by other people and claims to have applied them to sensitive land on the river.human assistance production, became famous for several days. Antinori has been left in a historical trash can as fake; The last time he was told, two years ago, was because he was arrested, accused of forcibly removing a female egg from a 24-year-old nurse who worked at his clinic in Milan.

It's too early to know how He will happen. However, the media has repeated old debates about what to do and what not to do human embryo. There is broad consensus among specialists in embryology, reproductive medicine, molecular biology and bioethics that medical and scientific progress is applied to prevent and treat diseases. There is also a consensus that action on ovules, sperm and embryos should not pose a risk to future generations.

There is broad consensus that DNA modification can be applied to prevent and treat diseases

This consensus was embodied in the European Council Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, approved in Oviedo in 1997 and signed by 35 countries, which is the only legally binding international agreement for the protection of human rights in the biomedical field. In Article 13, entitled "Intervention in the human genome", he stated that "interventions that attempt to modify the human genome can only be done for preventive, diagnostic or therapeutic purposes, and only if the purpose is not to introduce modifications to the genome from no offspring. "

An example that meets both requirements (medical and safety goals for future generations) is a preimplantation genetic diagnosis. The technique passed in Spain by the Reproduction Act is Assisted, consisting of analyzing embryo DNA before being implanted in the uterus to ensure that it is not a carrier of serious hereditary disease. On the other hand, cloning is illegal, because it does not prevent or treat any disease and, in addition, can involve changes that will be transmitted to offspring.

Dr. Experiment He did not fulfill one of these two requirements. Chinese entrepreneurs argue that the intervention is intended to modify the CCR5 gene so that people born with the edited genome cannot get AIDS. But one girl who is suspected of being born is still vulnerable to HIV because she has one of two copies of the whole gene, which she knows-or should be known before implanting the embryo. In addition, there are other effective ways to prevent AIDS. And by deactivating CCR5, the vulnerability of girls to other viruses such as the flu or West Nile has increased. Therefore, the genetic edition he has made does not have medical justification.

The use of techniques in the embryo is rejected because of the risk of causing undesired damage to the next generation

Regarding the second requirement, the CRISPR-Cas9 genetic editing technique that he uses involves the risk of unwanted mutations that will be passed on to the next generation. Therefore, that is not appropriate. Precisely because of the risk of these serious side effects, the Unesco Bioethics Committee claims that the moratorium did not implement the genetic edition of ovules, embryos and sperm three years ago. On the same line, participants at the First Stage of the International Genetic Summit, which brought together researchers from more than twenty countries, including China, in 2015. It was surprising that the forum that He had chosen to present his experiments, after violating clearly the recommendations made at the first congress, was the International Genetic Edition II meeting which took place this week in Hong Kong.

The CRISPR-Cas9 technique, which allows DNA to be modified quickly, easily and cheaply, remains a "promising technology that has great potential to benefit society," said David Liu of the Broad Institute of EE in Hong Kong yesterday. US, in a statement to the Associated Press.

But this benefit will come sooner to treat diseases in adult cells, where the possibility of side effects will be limited, rather than preventing them in ovulation, sperm and embryos. And of course, bioethics agree, this technique should not be used in any case to improve the human species by modifying non-pathological features such as beauty, intelligence or skin color.

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