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Chinese Gene-Edited Baby
#1
I viewed a notice recently that some Chinese scientist edited babies' DNA with the goal of making them more resistant to HIV.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/26/healt...china.html

What is your opinion about this news? How do you think it will affect future research in genetic engineering, if true?
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#2
I don't really have much of an opinion about it beyond 'that's interesting'.

I don't really hold with all the sound and fury about the ethics of the thing and even less with the idea that there's something questionable about trying to gengineer humans to be better than we are.

I don't know that it will effect the future of genetic engineering in any significant way since it is just one part of a huge ongoing endeavor. Barring some immediately obvious problem or improvement, it's also not clear how the genetic tweaks in question will impact the lives of the children in any significant way unless a deliberate effort is made to test their resistance to HIV.

Todd
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#3
My daughter, a geneticist, is not keen on this development. She's had to learn a list of legal restraints on genetic research, and this research transgresses several of them. He Jiankui has done all this in secret, and broken many procedural rules. This is not the way to get genetic engineering accepted in wider society.
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#4
My main objection to it is that any child modified in this manner cannot consent to being experimented on. I agree that improving the human race is a worthwhile goal, but it should not be done in a way that puts the health of future generations at risk.

If we can demonstrably produce superior intelligence in rats and chimps, then perhaps it might be worth taking the risk in humans, but discovering the workings of our genes by subjecting designer babies to trial-and-error experimentation is grossly immoral.
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#5
It is certainly interesting. But the Chinese researchers that did this seemed to ignore bioethics for what amounts to a publicity stunt. I only hope that the babies will be alright because it is clear this is procedure was untested. As Steve and Ex said this is the irresponsible and reckless way to do human genetic research.
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#6
In principle I’m not against genetic modifications for health. But the technology used here has barely been tested on primates, there are a hell of a lot of questions still to be answered. It was an entirely unnecessary risk that (if it did actually happen and children are brought to term) could result in life long suffering if there are any erroneous mutations. Even if one does believe the health of children is worth the risk to advance the technology (I’ve seen a few people opine that, though not in a professional setting) the destruction of public trust in event of a high profile failure would be even more of a set back.
OA Wish list:
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#7
Not a bad idea but the execution seems a bit sketchy.
Apparantly the modification was to remove genes making infection by HIV less likely but making all sorts of viral infections more likely. (Especially in the lungs)
Given that HIV is much more preventable, it's a bad trade-off for the girls IMO.
That and risking off-target errors.
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#8
Hello, new member here Smile

A question related to the GM babies born in China - perhaps the relevant history timeline page should be updated to reflect this? Who can make the change and how?
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#9
(01-22-2019, 09:57 PM)DmitryR Wrote: Hello, new member here Smile

A question related to the GM babies born in China - perhaps the relevant history timeline page should be updated to reflect this? Who can make the change and how?

Hi There - Welcome to OA!

Sorry for the delay in getting this approved - sometimes the forum gives a clear notification that a post is pending and other times not so much:/

Re your suggestion - I'm not sure of the details on this off the top of my head but, depending on what is currently known, we could at the least add a post that a claim of this being done was made and mentioning the resulting controversy.

If more is known about this (in other words, is it confirmed that this was done) we can write the timeline entry accordingly.

Would you like to take a shot at writing the timeline entry or are you OK with another member doing it? As the one suggesting it, you get right of first refusal, basicallySmile

Hope this helps and once again - Welcome to OA!

Todd
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#10
If nothing else is done, my suggestion would be an addition to this article https://www.orionsarm.com/eg-topic/45b2afc424975

Saying something like

50 AT - Lulu and Nana, the first ever genetically modified humans, are born in China, following a secret project by researcher He Jiankui. The babies' CCR5 genes were altered, with the aim of giving them resistance to HIV, and one possible side-effect being increased memory function. This project was widely censured by the scientific community.

Note that the entry for 62 AT might also need modifying.
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