Pulse 89: Chinese Twin Girls May Be World’s First CRISPR-Edited Babies

26 November 2018
Giulio Prisco

In Vitro Fertilization CRISPR

Chinese scientists at the Southern University of Science and Technology, in Shenzhen, have been recruiting couples in an effort to create the first gene-edited babies, MIT Technology Review reports. The scientists plan to eliminate a gene called CCR5, in hopes of rendering the offspring resistant to HIV, smallpox, and cholera.

A clinical trial document posted online this month describes a study in which CRISPR gene-editing technology is employed to modify human embryos before they are transferred into women’s uteruses.

“I feel a strong responsibility that it’s not just to make a first, but also make it an example,” lead researcher He Jiankui told Associated Press. “Society will decide what to do next.”

Jiankui studied at Rice and Stanford universities before returning to China to open his university lab and two genetics companies. He claims one couple in the trial gave birth to twin girls, the world’s first genetically edited babies, this month.

Despite many negative reactions, Harvard University’s George Church defended attempting gene editing for HIV, Associated Press reports.

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