TORONTO – Canadian researchers have added their voices to a broad international condemnation of a Chinese scientist who has said he has helped create genetically modified bilingual women using a gene editing tool called CRISPR.
The unauthorized claim was published on Monday by He Jiankui of the University of South China Science and Technology, who said that he had changed DNA from embryos during fertility treatments with the aim of preventing the infants from being infected with HIV in the future.
Such genetic tetering contravenes the international ethical guidelines and laws of some countries that regulate the use of gene generating in human reproduction – some call the slippery slope towards babies designer.
Dr. gave Janet Rossant, a senior scientist at the Toronto Hospital for Ill Children, is a clear warning if the research happened, as it has not been published in a medical journal or has checked it by other scientists.
"But in the face of value, this research has moved on to the clinic way in front of all the moral consensus that has been happening internationally," Rossant said Monday.
Although the possibility of using CRISPR-Cas9 to eliminate or rearrange DNA extracts that is the basis for serious genetic diseases is exciting, only in people who are known to be completely safe and under strict ethical guidelines should use & 39; r only tool.
"The genetic adjustment that he did was to prevent serious genetic disease, that is what we would distribute as an amendment, which is also something that the National Academies (from Science, Engineering and Medicine) were not appropriate," he said.
Treating the genes to prevent HIV infection, "we do not even know what long-term consequences are. And so, it's not necessary for those children."
Changing DNA in human eggs, sperm or embryo in the so-called means a germ line, which would affect not only a child that came out of this type, but also for generations & # 39; the future. The dangers of such an intervention are not anonymous, and leading scientists and medical institutions have called for a moratorium on its use other than in laboratory studies.
Under the Canadian Human Reproduction Act, editing such germs is illegal and could be punished for up to 10 years in prison.
Sohnee Ahmed, president of the Association of Canadian Genetic Counselors said that if the Chinese scientist's claim is true, the birth of the firstborn babies of the genetically modified word has run a way ahead of scientific maturity and ethical considerations.
"Certainly this is something that the genetics world would think everyone could happen one day, but I think we hope that it would happen with much more regulation," he said. Ahmed, a genetic advisor in a private DNA testing laboratory in Toronto.
"I would hope that the international bodies that have stated quite firmly until this point that we would not want this to happen will be firmly irrespective of someone becoming curious," he said.
"And if anything (s) would be really double to emphasize this, something that should not happen right now, not with any form of supervision."
Tim Caulfield, a professor of health and law at the University of Alberta, said that although the advent of genes was exciting, the use of technology to reconstruct human DNA is "premature."
"I believe there is an international consensus that appears to be clear that this research should go ahead, which we need to be an open mind about how it could be used in the future, but we are not in the state right now that we want to use technology in the clinic, "he said from Edmonton.
"Using these technologies can prematurely affect the overall scientific field. I believe it's very important that we move forward carefully and transparently."
On Monday, more than 100 Chinese scientists, mostly, signed a petition calling for more supervision from their country on production experiments, while the University of the South states that he intends to investigate claim He, saying that the work "cuts great ethics and academic standards."
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