The inventors of CRISPR are alarmed that the gene-editing technology is being used to . . . edit genes? Really?
In late November, the MIT Technology Review broke the news that a Chinese scientist, He Jiankui, used the gene-editing technology known as CRISPR to genetically modify human embryos.
The embryos were then implanted, and earlier this year a pair of twin girls named Lulu and Nana were born.
At least that’s He’s story. No one is 100 percent certain it actually happened. After all, there have been bogus claims of this magnitude before, most famously in 2004 when a South Korean researcher falsely claimed to have successfully cloned human embryonic stem cells.
Despite their doubts, most geneticists have denounced He’s reported actions, calling them, among other things, “profoundly disturbing” and “monstrous.”
While the assessment is correct, I’m struggling to believe their professed shock. It brings to mind a scene from the movie “Casablanca” when Captain Renault declares that he is “shocked, shocked to find there is gambling going on in here” even as he accepts an envelope with his share of the take.
According to reports, He used CRISPR to deactivate a gene known as CCR5, “which the HIV virus uses as a doorway for infiltrating human cells.” The stated goal was to render “the offspring resistant to HIV, smallpox, and cholera.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet and Roberto Rivera