Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Scientist in China convicted of inhumanely editing germline DNA


He Jiankui was sentence to three years in prison as well as a $430,000 fine for editing embryos of impregnated women in in experiments. Jiankui claims he was attempting to edit the embryos disable the gene CCR5, which encodes a protein that allows HIV to enter cells. His goal was to replicate a mutation found in 10% of Europeans to protect them from infection. Jiankui may have inadvertently caused other dangerous mutations but nothing can be know until follow-up research is done on the girls. The Chinese health ministry will be in charge of gathering information in said follow-ups.

The backlash from this unregulated experiment can potentially hover many more regulatory measures over the genome editing community. Many of the nations with gene editing regulatory practice have highly restrictive or intermediate measures in place, while Mexico and China have comparatively permissive guidelines. The primary argument against gene editing in human is who decides when is it absolutely necessary and no longer potentially more harmful. Much of the modern world is under this notion so the regulations will remain restrictive. However many scientists argue for looser restrictions so that more research can be done to finely tune gene editing to a point of viability


  1. I wrote a blog regarding the ethical discussions that have been taking place following He's release from prison, as the embryos he conducted the genome editing on are now young children. There are many different sides to the ethics of genome editing, but I do believe the use of this technique, especially given the father's history of being HIV positive was beneficial to the young girls. I do see the ethical issues as well, as the young girls will have to be continuously medically monitored throughout the duration of their lives.

  2. I have not heard if this news story but I am appalled that this was allowed to happen. While I do think that gene editing will become something of norm in the future, at this point in time and with the details involving this case, it should have not been done. I get that he probably meant no harm and was actually aiming to improve the lives of these girls but he conducted his experiment with no official approval nor by following the proper safety protocols. I feel that with this type of gene alteration the effects of the change should be analyzed first over the reason for the change. It seems like Jiankui was overly concerned with the prevention of the HIV aspect rather than any consequences that the gene alteration may end up having on the future lives of these young girls. Much is still yet to learn about this topic.