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China has it’s first two CRISPR’d babys

Gene manipulation using CRISPR is a topic which is known for some
time now. But in China CRISPR has been used on the embryos of two
girls which have been born recently. Do we start playing God now?
And what about possibe genetic mutations that may occur?

The goal of the CRISPR1 method on these two artificially fertilized embryos was to remove the genetic conditioning CCR52. CCR5 is known for triggering HIV once the immune system gets infected. If CCR5 is missing (or cut using CRISPR), then the result should be that these two girls will not get infected by HIV.

What sounds good for now however is some shameless testing on human material to see if the theoretic analysis will take effect in real.

Ethically doubtful also to use embryos without consent of the person that is then getting artificially pregnant.

In Shenzhen, where the experiment took place, this is rectified not to heal from HIV but to prevent new infections by HIV. So if an embryo already suffers from HIV as the donor is already HIV-infected, CRISPR can’t solve this problem by just cutting out the specific gene sequence.

Also there’s no specification when an embryo has to be “edited” or not. So this needs to be clarified prior to further embryo editing. Especially when theres no cure or treatment available then, and ONLY then CRISPR should be applied. And then with consent of the future parents.

And the final problem is: What happens if CRISPR fails to “edit” the correct dequence out of the DNA? What might be the result? Are we facing horrible mutations which can result in unwanted side effects for the rest of mankind? All this is not yet answered fully and so is CRISPR and Cas9 still an experiment with many unknown variables…


  1. Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (More info)
  2. C-C-Chemokine-Receptor Type 5 (More info)

November 27, 2018 Netspark - 1594 posts - Member since: May 9th, 2011 No Comments »

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