12 votes

First gene-edited babies claimed in China

4 comments

  1. nic Link
    CRISPR is inefficient at introducing mutations consistently. The basic problem is that these systems require the cooperation of the genomic repair systems of the cell. There are several ways which...

    CRISPR is inefficient at introducing mutations consistently. The basic problem is that these systems require the cooperation of the genomic repair systems of the cell. There are several ways which these repairs are mediated, and only one (homology directed repair) yields the desired outcome. This happens at a low rate, which diminishes the overall efficacy and complexity of the process.

    6 votes
  2. [3]
    mb3077 (edited ) Link
    Some really ethically shady shit going on here. But other than that it looks like their plan is well thought out. They warned the participants that this has never been tested before and that there...

    It's unclear whether participants fully understood the purpose and potential risks and benefits. For example, consent forms called the project an "AIDS vaccine development" program.

    The use of that embryo suggests that the researchers' "main emphasis was on testing editing rather than avoiding this disease," Church said.

    Both men are physics experts with no experience running human clinical trials.

    Even if editing worked perfectly, people without normal CCR5 genes face higher risks of getting certain other viruses, such as West Nile, and of dying from the flu.

    Some really ethically shady shit going on here. But other than that it looks like their plan is well thought out.
    They warned the participants that this has never been tested before and that there might be risks in doing the test.

    They also promised "to provide insurance coverage for any children conceived through the project and plans medical followup until the children are 18 and longer if they agree once they're adults."

    In the grand scheme of things I personally support genetic editing that can prevent diseases as long as its regulated to the max.
    If it is promised to be safe and done as ethically as possible then I would consider it to be similar to giving a child vaccination.

    However right now we are nowhere near technologically advanced enough to promise that these kinds of genetic editing won't cause any harm to the child later in life. I think that it needs to be thoroughly tested (maybe on animals?) before we can start to apply it to humans.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      papasquat Link Parent
      It's a really scary, and I think inevitable road that we may go down. I think it's completely unethical as a society to start editing genes for more favorable characteristics besides disease...

      It's a really scary, and I think inevitable road that we may go down. I think it's completely unethical as a society to start editing genes for more favorable characteristics besides disease prevention, unless everyone has equal access to it. Even then, it's pretty murky.

      The obvious end state is going to be that countries with a strong emphasis on ethical scientific practices will ban this stuff, and countries without that emphases (China, as has been observed in the past) wont. I fear the consequences of this long term.

      In 50 years, will Chinese be forced to gene edit their babies into growing up to be seven foot tall geniuses? Will other countries eventually abandon their ethics in the face of being out-competed by a country made up of people who are just biologically better than them in every measurable way? Kind of a frightening path to go down.

      4 votes
      1. mb3077 Link Parent
        Agreed. Anything that is beyond disease prevention is a no from me. I can see a reality where children from poorer families being outcast for not having certain physical attributes that have...

        I think it's completely unethical as a society to start editing genes for more favorable characteristics besides disease prevention, unless everyone has equal access to it. Even then, it's pretty murky.

        Agreed. Anything that is beyond disease prevention is a no from me.

        I can see a reality where children from poorer families being outcast for not having certain physical attributes that have become 'the norm'. It's scary to think about.