The Human Genetic Edition Congress of Hong Kong, in which Chinese scientist He Jiankui has defended his experiments with viable human embryos, which he modified his genes so that two twins resistant to AIDS were born, were closed with a declaration of criticism when considering "very disturbing" research and "not responsible". The Chinese government has ordered the paralysis of the experiment, something that has been decided by researchers in dealing with the resulting global conflict.
"Even if modifications are verified, the procedure is irresponsible and violates all international standards," said the final resolution of the congressional organizing committee, which ended this week in Hong Kong.
This resolution calls for an independent evaluation of the investigation of He Jiankui, who argues that he changed the use of the Crisp Cas9 gene technology that uses the AIDS virus as the gateway to the immune system in two fertilized embryos in vitro and from which two girls were born, according to scientists, they alright. I also recognize the second fecundant with the modified gene.
This investigation has not been contrasted by any independent scientist or institution associated with genetics or any ethics committee acknowledges that they were told about the experiment, as determined by standards.
Last Monday, the shocking announcement of the birth of two genetically modified babies for the first time caused a big uproar in the international scientific community. He Jiankui appeared in a video posted on the network where he explained an experiment which, it turns out, had been carried out in secret and without appropriate ethical and clinical requirements.
On Wednesday, in what was his first public appearance since he revealed that he had succeeded in changing the DNA of two newborn twins – Nana and Lulu – in their embryonic stages to make them resistant to AIDS virus infections, he was proud of his accomplishments and he protect himself from critics who admit that it might be "the only way to cure any disease". But his speech did not convince some of the audience.
He was supposed to participate on Thursday at another panel of the specialist congress, but eventually canceled his appearance "with his own decision", according to convincing Nobel Medical Prize David Baltimore, one of the organizers of a genetic summit.
Many experts have warned about the consequences that this modification can occur in humans in future generations. "By doing this, he changes human genes, we may not see the impact for several generations," said Dennis Lo Yuk-ming, chair of the Department of Chemical Pathology at the Chinese University in Hong Kong. . He said there was still no academic consensus to carry out this type of test in humans.
However, the way to reach an agreement can begin to be shaped by recent events. The congressional organizing committee itself pointed out that, despite these obvious difficulties and risks, "progress in the past three years and discussions at the current summit showed that it was time to set a strict path and be responsible for such trials".
From the other side of the Pacific, the presidents of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine in the United States, Marcia McNutt and Victor Dzau, also expressed their concern to then show that "what happened in Hong Kong this week clearly shows the need for us to develop more specific standards and principles that can be approved by the international scientific community. "
But finding consensus among scientists from various parts of the world is not an easy task. As a specialist in Bioethics Sarah Chan said today, "we cannot regard the international scientific community as a single and integrated body, it is a summary where there is a lot of diversity". For that reason, "we must be sensitive to different situations in different contexts" without forgetting that this type of evidence – which is made without transparency – "is beyond what is acceptable".
While waiting for this intention to come to fruition, He has paralyzed his experiment. The reason: the scandal that resulted after the announcement and flood of criticism after the institutions and hospitals involved in the process refused their participation and began an investigation to try to clarify the steps taken by Chinese scientists.