Friday, November 30, 2018

China Halts Work by Scientist Who Says He Edited Babies' Genes

         A scientist by the name of He Jiankui and his team are currently being investigated by authorities after revealing his gene editing experiments done on human babies. Genetic testing on human embryos is very much guarded, which is why it is such a huge deal. Gene editing is a very sensitive topic to a lot of people, including scientists, because it is seen as morally wrong as well as inhumane. A lot of genes are interconnected in some way, meaning one change in the genetic code of a human could change a lot of things, some good, some wouldn't matter too much, but a lot of them could cause extremely detrimental defects to the baby which is why it is such a serious experiment.
          In Dr. He's experiment he used crisprs in order to alter the embryos of two twin girls who were born last month. Crisprs are derived from the bacteria cell which have the ability to adopt the DNA of a virus or another outside DNA sequence. When the virus returns, the bacteria would be able to fight off the virus by producing segments of RNA which will attack the DNA of the newly introduced virus. The bacteria then use an enzyme (usually CAS9) in order to cut up the DNA, which would kill the virus. Dr. He would use the same procedure except that the virus would be replaced with human DNA from an embryo.

           Using the crispr would give Dr. He the ability to edit the genome of the embryo in order to genetically enhance the children with a particular gene that makes a human less likely to contract the disease, HIV.
          The reason I chose this article to review is because I think it is a major development in science that should and needs to be talked about. This one experiment has changed the way that we look at Genetic Science completely. Genetic editing has been referred and referenced in the human species before, but has never been used. Although it may be considered inhumane by some, it is a great leap in the world of science and how we have the ability to look at things now. Diseases may now be attacked genetically from the inside of the body like we never have been able to before. It is exciting, as well as very dangerous but we will have to see what the future holds.

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  1. I still don't know if I believe he truly edited a human genome. The fact that he also presented no supporting data along with his announcement could either be a ploy to build anticipation or the biggest bluff i've ever seen. I feel that it would take a long process to prove he actually edited the genes rather than just bred for a greater resiliency to HIV.

  2. I read a similar article and did a blog post on it as well. I think that he may have actually edited the genome, but there are instances where individuals are not born with the CCR5 protein. In addition, when individuals do not have the protein, they are at a higher risk for other diseases. Its curious to see whether this is worth the trade off. Genetic editing is far from being used in humans but its cool to see this monumental moment.