Hong Kong – Chinese researcher says he helped create the first genetically modified babies in the world: two twins whose DNA said adjusting to try to help them withstand possible future infection with the Human Immunodeficiency (HIV virus).
If true, there is a large gap in science and ethics.
Scientist from the United States said that participating in work in China, but this kind of & # 39; gene editing is prohibited in & # 39; country due to changes in DNA can be passed on to future generations and risk damaging other genes.
Many conventional scientists think it is too dangerous to try, so some iddenunzjaw report that Chinese human experimentation.
The researcher, He Jiankui, a & # 39; Shenzhen, said modified embryos & # 39; seven & # 39; couples during fertility treatments, and & # 39; now one pregnancy. He reported that his goal was not to cure or prevent hereditary disease, but tries to feature a few people have naturally: the ability to withstand possible future infection with HIV, the virus that causes the syndrome & # 39; Immune Weakness adequate (AIDS).
He added that parents involved refused to be identified or interviewed, and did not say where they live or where the work was done.
M & # 39; there is no independent confirmation of the claim & # 39; He, and has not been published in & # 39; journal, which other experts could examine them. The announcement revealed Monday in & # 39; Hong Kong, one of the organizers of & # 39; international conference on gene editing will start on Tuesday, and before f & # 39; exclusive interview with Atari 39; The Associated Press.
"I feel a great responsibility not only on how to make the first, but also about being an example", he told the AP. "Society will decide x & # 39; must be preceded by" f & # 39; & # 39 terms of a permit or ban & # 39; this science.
Some scientists were surprised to hear the claim and kkundannawha b & # 39; powerful way.
It is "unthinkable … experiment with & # 39; humans morally or ethically defensible not", said Dr Kiran Musunuru, an expert in genetic editing at the University & # 39; Pennsylvania and editor of & # 39; genetics journal.
"It is too early", said Dr. Eric Topol, who heads the Institute & # 39; Transversal Research & # 39; Scripps in California. "We are dealing with & # 39; operating instructions & # 39; man, this is a big problem."
However, famous ġenetista, George Church of the University & # 39; Harvard, defended the attempt & # 39; HIV genetic editing, which he described as "bigger and growing threat to public health".
"I think this is justified", said Church on that aim.
In recent years, the scientists Find out relatively easy way to edit genes, the DNA lines governing body. The tool, called CRISPR-cas9, makes it possible to operate with DNA to supply necessary or disables one gene that is causing problems.
Only recently been proven in adults to treat deadly diseases, and changes are limited to that person. The edition of & # 39; sperm, ova or embryo is different, the changes can be inherited. In the United States, is not allowed, except for laboratory research. China bans human cloning but not specifically gene editing.
It Jiankui (HEH JEE & # 39; -An-qway), talking about "JK", studied at universities & # 39; Rice and Stanford in the United States. Before returning to his native country to open a laboratory at the University of Science and southern China in Technology & # 39; Shanghai, which also has two genetic companies.
The scientist & # 39; the United States has worked with in & # 39; this project after his return to China was a professor of physics and bio-engineering Michael Deem, who was the his consultant in & # 39; Rice in Houston. Deem also what he called "small participation" in, and is part of the scientific advice & # 39; both companies.
The Chinese researcher said he practiced mice & # 39; edit, monkey and human embryos in the laboratory for several years and applied for patents on its methods.
He said he chose to embryonic gene testing for HIV because these infections are a major problem in China. He sought to disable a gene called CCR5 which forms a & # 39; protein portal that allows HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, enters the cell.
All men in the project have HIV and not all women, but editing gene was designed to prevent the small risk of & # 39; transmission, he said. The parents had their infections subdued most of standard medicines against HIV and there are simple ways to prevent them from infecting children do not involve gene alteration.
Instead, the call was to offer to couples affected by HIV the opportunity to have children can be protected from a similar fate.
He recruited couples through & # 39; & # 39 group; Promoting AIDS based in & # 39; Beijing called Baihualin. Its leader, known by the pseudonym "Bai Hua", told the AP that uncommon for people with HIV lose their jobs or have problems to get medical attention if their infections are disclosed.
As perform the work:
The edition of the gene occurred during IVF, or fertilization laboratory plate. First, the sperm was "washed" to separating from the semen, the fluid in which HIV can & # 39; he is concealing. The sperm was placed in one & # 39; one form to create an embryo. Then the editing tools gene was added.
When embryos were 3 to 5 days, some cells were removed and their editing was verified. Couples can choose whether or not to use embryos edited attempts to & # 39; pregnancy. B & # 39; all, 16 of the 22 embryos were published, and 11 embryos used in & # 39; six attempts & # 39; plants obtained before pregnancy, he said.
Evidence suggests that one twin had both copies of the desired genes altered and the other twin only two have been replaced, without any evidence & # 39; damage to other genes, he said. People with & # 39; a copy of the gene can still get HIV, although some very limited research suggests that their health can & # 39; decline more slowly once they do.
Several scientists have reviewed the materials provided to the PA and said that the tests & # 39; now not enough to say that edition worked or exclude damage.
They also noted evidence that the edition was incomplete and at least one ġemellazzjoni seems mosaic & # 39; & # 39 with cells, several changes.
"It's almost not edit anything" if only some of the cells changed, because HIV infection can still & # 39; occurs, Church said.
Church Musunuru questioned the decision to allow one of the embryos used in & # 39; attempt & # 39; pregnancy, because Chinese researchers said they knew in advance that both copies of the desired gene are unchanged.
"F & # 39; that the child, really there was nothing to be found at & # 39; terms & # 39; protection against HIV and still expose that child to all risks of unknown safety "Musunuru said.
The use of & # 39; embryo suggests that the main focus of the researchers was a "test question rather avoid this disease", said Church.
Even if the editing work perfectly, people without normal CCR5 genes face greater risks & # 39; & # 39 contravention; Other viruses, such as West Nile, and die from the flu. According Musunuru, there are many ways to avoid HIV infection and you & # 39; treated much if it occurs, those other medical risks are & # 39; concern.
There are also questions about how said proceeding. It's official notice of his work began having said this, 8 & # 39; in November, f & # 39; & # 39 Chinese record; clinical trials.
It is not clear whether the participants fully understood the scope and risks and possible benefits. For example, the forms of consent requested project as program & # 39; "of AIDS vaccine development".
The scientist & # 39; Rice, Deem, said he was present in China where potential participants gave their consent and "absolutely" believes that they can understand the risks.
Deem said he worked with & # 39; He on research on vaccines in & # 39; Rice and considers edition of the gene is similar to a vaccine.
"It can & # 39; is the way it describes layman," he said.
Both men are experts in physical inexperienced in clinical trials in humans.
The Chinese scientist, He, said that he personally made the objectives clear and informed participants ever tried to edit the gene embryo carries risks. He added that it also provides coverage & # 39; insurance for any child conceived during the project planning and medical follow-up until the child is 18 years or more if they do once they are adults.
Other attempts during pregnancy are pending until the security & # 39; it is analyzed and experts in & # 39; this making area, but the participants were not informed in advance that can & # 39; do not have the opportunity to prove what was recorded once reached pregnancy "first", he acknowledged. Treatment with & # 39; none was part of fertility treatment that was offered to them.
He applied for and received approval of its project at the Women's Hospital and the Children & # 39; Harmonicare Shenzhen, which is one of four & # 39; said hospitals provided embryos for research or his attempts & # 39; pregnancy.
Some of the staff & # 39; some of the other hospitals remained in the dark about the nature of the investigation, which, according to him and Deem, done to prevent the HIV infection from some participants disclosed .
"We believe that it is unethical," said Lin Zhitong, a & # 39; Harmonicare manager who heads the board & # 39; ethics.
Each member of the medical staff treated the samples can & # 39; contain HIV was aware, he said. laboratory Embriologu of & # 39; He, Qin Jinzhou, confirmed to the AP that made the wash sperm and injected the gene-editing tools in & # 39; some attempts & # 39; pregnancy.
The participants in the study are etikisti, he said, but "are the same authorities as what is right what is wrong because it is their life on the line."
"I think this will help families and their children", he said. If cause unwanted side effects or damage, "I am the same as I feel pain and they will be my responsibility".