The First Gene-Edited Babies Are Here, Like It or Not | SciShow News | Summary and Q&A

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December 7, 2018
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The First Gene-Edited Babies Are Here, Like It or Not | SciShow News

TL;DR

A scientist in China used CRISPR to edit the DNA of human embryos in an attempt to make them resistant to HIV, leading to criticism and condemnation from the scientific community.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What is CRISPR and how does it work?

CRISPR is a gene editing technique that enables scientists to delete, turn off, or insert genes more easily, cheaply, and accurately than before. It has been extensively used for research purposes.

Q: Why did the scientist edit the embryos' genes?

The scientist aimed to disable a gene called ccr5, which is involved in the immune system and exploited by the HIV virus. By disabling this gene, he intended to make the babies resistant to HIV.

Q: What are the concerns regarding the experiment?

The experiment has been widely criticized for skipping essential steps, going against scientific consensus, and potentially introducing unintended mutations. It also raises ethical questions about editing someone's entire genome before they are born and altering the course of human evolution.

Q: Are there safer alternatives to prevent HIV transmission from an infected parent?

Yes, there are less risky methods available to ensure that a baby with an HIV-positive parent does not contract the virus, such as antiretroviral therapy or various assisted reproductive technologies.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • A scientist in China used the gene editing technique CRISPR to disable a gene involved in the immune system and HIV infection in human embryos created via IVF.

  • The embryos were successfully implanted in their mother's uterus and developed into twin baby girls who were recently born.

  • The experiment has been widely condemned due to ethical concerns and the potential risks associated with using CRISPR on human embryos.

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