April 21, 2024

A Chinese scientist who was captured for his role in creating the world’s first genetically edited babies says he has returned to his laboratory to work on treating Alzheimer’s and other genetic diseases.

In a maintenance with a Japanese newspaper, He Jiankui said he had resumed research on human embryo genome editing, despite the controversy over the ethics of artificial gene rewriting, which some critics predicted would lead to a demand for “designer babies” would lead

“We will use discarded human embryos and comply with both domestic and international rules,” he told the Mainichi Shimbun, adding that he had no plans to produce more genome-edited babies. He previously used a tool known as Crispr-Cas9 to rewrite DNA in embryos.

In 2019 a court China He was sentenced to three years in prison for breaching medical regulations after he claimed the previous year that he had created genetically modified twin sisters, Lulu and Nana, before birth.

Sent his experiments shock waves by the medical and scientific world. He was widely condemned for going ahead with the risky, ethically controversial and medically unjustified procedure with insufficient consent from the families involved.

The court found that He falsified documents from an ethics review panel that was used to recruit couples for his research.

He said he had a custom no editing procedure known as Crispr-Cas9 to rewrite the DNA in the sisters’ embryos – modifications he claims will make the children immune to HIV.

He continued defend his work, despite widespread criticism, says he is “proud” of creating Lulu and Nana. A third girl was born in 2019 as a result of similar experiments.

He told the Mainichi that he hopes to use genome editing in human embryos to develop treatments for rare genetic diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy and familial Alzheimer’s disease at three laboratories he has opened since his release from prison in 2022.

He said the three genome-edited children are “perfectly healthy and have no problems with their growth,” according to the newspaper, adding that the twins, now 5 years old, attend kindergarten.

“The results of analysis [the children’s] whole gene sequencing shows that there were no changes to the genes except for the medical purpose, which provides evidence that genome editing was safe,” he told the Mainichi. “I am proud to have helped families who wanted healthy children.”

He told the Guardian in 2023 that he acted “too quickly” by proceeding with the procedure but stopped short of expressing regret or apologizing.

In his interview with the Mainichi, he said society will “eventually” accept human embryo gene editing in the search for treatments for genetic diseases.

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