CRISPR scientist in China claims his team’s research has resulted in the world’s first gene-edited babies

TechCrunch | 3/7/2017 | Staff
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In a dramatic development for CRISPR research, a Chinese scientist from a university in Shenzhen claims he has succeeded in helping create the world’s first genetically-edited babies. Dr. Jiankui He told the Associated Press that twin girls were born earlier this month after he edited their embryos using CRISPR technology to remove the CCR5 gene, which plays a critical role in enabling many forms of the HIV virus to infect cells.

The AP’s interview comes after the MIT Technology Review reported earlier today that He’s team at the Southern University of Science and Technology is using CRISPR technology to eliminate the CCR5 gene and create children with resistance to HIV. The news also comes right before the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing is set to begin in Hong Kong tomorrow.

Technology - Review - Summit - Organizers - Plans

According to the Technology Review, the summit’s organizers were apparently not notified of He’s plans for the study, though the AP reports that He informed them today.

During his interview with the AP, He, who studied at Rice and Stanford before returning to China, said he felt “a strong responsibility that it’s not just to make a first, but also make it an example” and that “society will decide what to do next.”

Documents - Technology - Review - Study - Medical

According to documents linked by the Technology Review, the study was approved by the Medical Ethics Committee of Shenzhen HOME Women’s and Children’s Hospital. The summary on the Chinese Clinical Trial Registry also says the study’s execution time is between March 7, 2017 to March 7, 2019, and that was seeking married couples living in China who meet its health and age requirements and are willing to undergo IVF therapy. The research team wrote that their goal is to “obtain healthy children to avoid HIV providing new insights for the future elimination of major genetic diseases in early human...
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