Highly controversial, if true.
A scientist in China has claimed to have made the world’s first genetically edited babies.
Prof He Jiankui announced this week that he had helped to edit a pair of twins’ DNA as embryos to ensure that they could not contract HIV.
The scientists’s claim has not yet been verified.
The concept of genetically modified embryos is highly controversial due to the potential risks to the human and future generations.
The idea of “designer babies” also remains a point of contention as the process would theoretically allow parents to choose their baby’s eye and hair colour, as well as other purely aesthetic preferences.
BBC reports that Prof He filmed a video of himself speaking about the embryos.
In it, he stated that he recognises that his work is “controversial” but that he believed that “families need this technology.”
Prof He alleged that he got rid of the gene CCR5 from the twin girls, Lula and Nana, meaning that they could never contract HIV.
Multiple organisations have denied involvement in Prof He’s work, as many other scientists have criticised him for carrying out “monstrous” experiments on healthy embryos.
Ethics expert Prof Julian Savulescu said that if the project is true, it has no benefit.
“The embryos were healthy – no known diseases,” he said.
“Gene editing itself is experimental and is still associated with off-target mutations, capable of causing genetic problems early and later in life, including the development of cancer.
“This experiment exposes healthy normal children to risks of gene editing for no real necessary benefit.”