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/ source: Associated Press
By & # 39; Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press
HONG KONG – Chinese researcher claims that he helped the first genetically edited baby world – twin girls born this month that his DNA said to alter b & # 39; new tool b & # 39; robust that it can & # 39; re & # 39; write the same plane & # 39; life.
If true, would be a major step & # 39; science and ethics.
The scientist & # 39; the US said it took part in the work in China, but this kind of & # 39; gene editing is banned in the US because the DNA changes can pass to future generations and this could jeopardize other genes.
Many mainstream scientists think that not much good to try, and some iddenunzjaw the Chinese report as human experimentation.
The researcher, is Jiankui of & # 39; Shenzhen, said he changed seven embryos & # 39; while couples treatments & # 39; fertility, b & # 39; one turned up windows now. He said that his aim was not to cure or prevent inherited disease, but tries to feature few people naturally have: ability to withstand possible future infection with HIV, the AIDS virus.
He said the parents involved declined to be identified or interviewed, and he does 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, where he was examined by other experts. It werah Monday in & # 39; Hong Kong to one of the organizers of & # 39; international conference on gene editing to start Tuesday, and before f & # 39; exclusive interviews with & # 39; The Associated Press.
"I feel a strong responsibility to not only do the first, but also make an example", 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 strongly.
It "is not considered an experiment on humans … not morally or ethically defensible", said Dr Kiran Musunuru, expert editing gene University & # 39; Pennsylvania and editor of & # 39; genetics journal.
"It is too premature", said Dr. Eric Topol, who heads the Institute & # 39; Transfer & # 39; Scripps Research in California. "We are dealing with & # 39; operating instructions & # 39; man. It's a big deal."
However, one prominent ġenetista, George Church of University & # 39; Harvard, defended the attempt & # 39; editing gene for HIV, which he called "a major threat and growing public health".
"I think this is justified", said Church on that aim.
In recent years scientists X Find out relatively easy way to edit genes, the DNA strands governing body. The tool, called CRISPR-cas9, makes it possible to operate on DNA to supply necessary or disables a gene to cause problems.
Only recently proven in adults to treat deadly diseases, and changes are limited to that person. The sperm, eggs or embryos to be edited are different – 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, who goes by "JK", studied at the Universities & # 39; Rice and Stanford in the US before & # 39; return f & # 39; country to open a laboratory in Southern University of Science and Technology of China in & # 39; Washington which also has two genetic companies.
The scientist & # 39; the United States has worked with in & # 39; this project after returning to China was a professor of physics and bio-engineering Michael Deem, who was his counselor f & # 39; Rice in Houston. Deem also keep what he called "small part" in – and is on the boards & # 39; & # 39 scientific advice; – It is two 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 editing gene embryo HIV because these infections are a major problem in China. He sought to disable a gene called CCR5 protein that forms the door to allow HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, to enter a & # 39; cell.
All men in the project have HIV and not all women, but the gene editing was designed to prevent the small risk of & # 39; transmission, he said. The fathers had their infections suppressed many of the standard medicines & # 39; HIV and there are simple ways to prevent them from infecting offspring that do not involve gene changes.
Instead, the appeal has to offer couples affected by HIV a chance 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 jobs or have problems to get medical care if their infections are disclosed.
Here is how it described the work:
Editing gene occurred during IVF, or laboratory fertilization. First, the sperm was "washed" to separating from the semen, the fluid in which HIV can & # 39; escape. The sperm was placed in one & # 39; one ħadda to create an embryo. Then the editing tools gene was added.
When embryos were 3 to 5 days, few cells were removed and checked for editing. Couples can choose whether to use embryos edited or not edited for attempts & # 39; pregnancy. B & # 39; all, 16 out of 22 embryos were edited, and 11 embryos used in & # 39; six attempts & # 39; plants obtained before pregnancy, he said.
Tests suggest that ġemellar had two copies of the intended gene replaced and other town only had one replaced, without any evidence & # 39; damage to other genes, he said. People with & # 39; one 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 rivedew materials provided to the AP and examinations that the & # 39; now not enough to say that the editing was working or exclude damage.
They also noted evidence that the editing was complete and that & # 39; at least one ġemellazzjoni seems to mix & # 39; cells with & # 39; several changes.
"It's almost not like to edit 'if only some certain cells were changed, because HIV infection still can & # 39; occurs, Church said.
Church Musunuru questioned the decision to allow one of the embryos used in & # 39; attempt & # 39; pregnancy, because the Chinese researchers said they knew in advance that both gene copies intended not changed .
"F & # 39; that child, there was really almost nothing to achieve in & # 39; terms & # 39; protection against HIV and still expose that child to all risks & # 39; safety unknown ", said Musunuru.
The use of & # 39; embryo suggests that the main focus of researchers has been on testing editing rather than prevent this disease, "said Church.
Even if the editing work perfectly, people without normal CCR5 genes face a higher risk of bringing certain other viruses, such as West Nile, and to die from the flu. Since there are many ways to avoid infection & # 39; HIV and is a treaty if it occurs, those with other medical risks are & # 39; concern, said Musunuru.
There are also questions about the way he said it proceeded. It's official notice of his work long after saying it started – at 8 & # 39; November on record Chinese & # 39; clinical trials.
It is unclear whether the participants fully understand the scope and risks and potential benefits. For example, the consent form called the project & # 39; of & # 39 program; "Vaccine development AIDS".
The scientist Rice, Deem, said he was present in China where potential participants gave their consent and "absolutely" thinks they were able to understand the risks.
Deem said he worked with & # 39; is on research on vaccines in & # 39; Rice and believes that the editing of genes similar to a vaccine.
"It can & # 39; is the way & # 39; layman who defines it," he said.
Both men are experts in physical inexperienced to have human clinical trials.
The Chinese scientist, He, said he personally made clear goals and told the participants that the editing of embryo gene has never been tried before and carries risks. He said it also provides coverage & # 39; insurance for any children thought through project planning and medical follow-up until children are 18 and over if they do once they are adults.
Further attempts & # 39; pregnancy are held until security & # 39; it analyzed and experts in weighing, but the participants were not informed in advance that they may not have a chance to prove what they signed up for a time reached "first", is recognized. Treatment with & # 39; no fertility was part of the agreement that were offered.
He sought and received approval for its project from the hospital Shenzhen Armonicare Women and Children, which is one of the four & # 39; hospitals He said provided embryos for his research or attempts & # 39; pregnancy.
Some staff at & # 39; some of the other hospitals were kept in the dark about the nature of the research, said that He and Deem made to keep any of HIV infection by a participant from being disclosed.
"We think it is unethical," said Lin Zhitong, administrator & # 39; Harmonicare managing board & # 39; ethics.
Any medical staff to treat samples can & # 39; contain HIV was aware, he said. laboratory Embriologu of & # 39; He, Qin Jinzhou, confirmed to the AP that made the sperm washing and injected the gene-editing tools in & # 39; some attempts & # 39; pregnancy.
The participants in the study are etikisti, he said, but "are the authorities on both what is right and what is wrong because it is their life on the line."
"I believe this will help families and their children", he said. If cause unwanted side effects or damage, "I feel the same pain I like to do and it will be my own responsibility."