Claims of a Chinese scientist about making the first ever genetically edited baby in the world is being considered to be doubtful. Prof Jiankui claimed to have altered DNA of twin girls, born just some weeks ago, when they were embryos to prevent contraction of HIV. The idea has been called monstrous by most scientists and such work is banned in several nations.
Gene editing alters or deletes troublesome coding found in embryos to potentially avoid heritable illnesses. It is not deemed good as meddling with genomes of embryos can do more harm than good and can affect future generations as well. Many nations like UK don’t allow such practices for assisted human reproduction. Discarded IVF embryos can be used for gene editing research, but only if they aren’t used for making babies and are destroyed immediately afterwards. But Prof. He claims to have used the technique to make two babies named “Nana” and “Lulu”. He says that he removed CCR5 gene to prevent the girls from ever contracting the AIDS virus if they ever come in contact with it. He says that his work is all about making healthy babies instead of ‘designer’ kids with high IQ or bespoke eye color. In his video, he says that he is ready to face and accept all criticism that his controversial work may bring along with it. Many organizations which included a hospital denied being involved in Prof. He’s research project. Other scientists like Prof. Robert Winston called his work ‘scientific misconduct’ and Dr. Dusko Ilic questioned the ethics behind his research. His argument tells that HIV can be kept under control with the help of drugs, eradicating any risk of it being passed on to the kid from the parents. Prof Julian Savulescu said that gene editing of healthy embryos is outrageous and monstrous. Off-target mutations could cause cancer and lead to genetic issues.
Gene editing in embryos may be justified some day after for now it requires a lot more measures and checks. Dr. Yalda Jamshidi supports this statement by saying that long-term effects of baby gene editing aren’t known yet and experimentation on healthy embryos for the sake of improving and increasing knowledge is ethically and morally unacceptable.