Chinese Scientist Genetically Modified Two Embryos

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Chinese Scientist Genetically Modified Two Embryos

Maggee Chang, Staff Writer

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Chinese researcher He JianKui is under fire for genetically modifying human embryos. The two embryos are now two Chinese twin girls, Lulu and Nana. In a video He posted online, He stated that he and his team performed “gene surgery” on embryos to prevent HIV– the father of Lulu and Nana is HIV-positive. “When Lulu and Nana were just a single cell, this surgery removed a doorway through which HIV enters to infect people.”

   The claim of the creation of the world’s first genetically modified babies alarmed the international scientific community since there is no published research or vetting process by third-party scientists about the use of CRISPR to modify human embryos. This experiment has been compared to the historical 1978 birth of Louise Brown, the first baby to be created through IVF (in-vitro fertilization.)

   On November 26, scientists and geneticists gathered at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong to discuss the ethics of creating human life through CRISPR to modify the CCR5 gene on white blood cells, which allows HIV to enter the cells. He stated that CRISPR was used to modify day-old embryos’ CCR5 gene; scientists have attempted to prevent CCR5’s pathway to prevent HIV, but never through CRISPR or any type of genetic engineering. Even Shoukhrat Mitalipov, a fellow scientist at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland and the first to report successfully using CRISPR to edit human embryos (but has not created any human life), said, “It is premature at this stage of technology.”

   Genetic engineering has been an ethical dilemma and a slippery slope for the scientific community. Many people describe this type of science as ‘playing God.’ People should not be able to pick and choose the genetics of their children. What is the next gene modification? With the right price, are geneticists and parents going to be able to choose the baby’s gender, skin tone, and hair type? Will beauty standards determine what unborn children look like? Once all disabilities are eliminated, won’t our society become more ableist than ever before?

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