For the first time ever in medical history, a scientist claimed that he created genetically modified human babies by using a powerful new gene editing technique. The man behind this experiment is He Jiankui of the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China. The genetically modified babies are twin girls, named Lullu and Nana respectively and are born few weeks ago.
Chinese researcher says he is ‘proud’ of gene-editing twins
He further explained that in order to create the twin girls, he used human embryos altered with the gene editing technique CRISPR. He also posted a video online afterward where he said “Two beautiful little Chinese girls name Lulu and Nana came crying into the world as healthy as any other babies a few weeks ago .The babies are home now with their mom Grace and their dad Mark.”
He explained that he along with his team performed a “gene surgery” on embryos which was created from their parent’s sperm and eggs in order to safeguard the children from the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, commonly known as HIV, which causes AIDS. According to the reports, the father of the twins is HIV-positive.
He further said in the video “When Lulu and Nana were just a single cell, this surgery removed a doorway through which HIV enter to infect people”
The research has not yet been available in a scientific journal or cautiously examined by other scientists because of which many other researchers and bioethicists remain restrained about his claim to produce genetically modified babies. But, if this claim is true, this would be historic, many are comparing this research to the birth of Louise Brown who is the first baby created through in-vitro fertilization, IVF.
There are mixed response getting after his claim, the Chinese government called it “shocking and unacceptable.” His claims made an instant widespread criticism from various researchers around the globe.
Jennifer Doudna, a biochemist at the University of California, said in an interview “This work is a break from the cautious and transparent approach of the global scientific community’s application of CRISPR-Cas9 for human germline editing”
Doudna further added “All of us that are here at this conference are struggling to figure out what was done and also whether the process was done properly. We just don’t know yet”
Previously on Wednesday, Chinese scientist He Jiankui attended an event, Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong where he said that he is proud of his work.
He also said in that event “Do you see your friends, your relatives who may have – a genetic disease – the way I see it, those people need help. There are millions of families with inherited diseases or exposure to infectious disease. If we have the technology and can make it available, then this will help people. When we talk about the future, first it’s transparent to open and share what knowledge I accumulate, to society and to the world. It is up to society to decide what to do next.”
He was also questioned in that event that is there any other gene edited pregnancies linked with his work. He then replied “There is another one, another potential pregnancy.”