SCINQ Asia Weekly Roundup: CRISPRbabies and the recklessness of Man

The day geneticists and bioethicists have long expected may come has arrived much quicker and recklessly than ever imagined. A Chinese geneticist named He Jiankui, from the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, made the audacious claim to have genetically modified human embryos using CRISPR-Cas9 technology that have been taken to term as twins.

The revelation that he had created the first so-called “designer babies” (Or CRISPRbabies on Twitter) was met with widespread condemnation, revulsion, and more recently, punishment. Questions regarding his data, technique, and conclusions indicate that his claims may have been overstated.

He is now being accused of taking advantage of his subjects who had not been completely informed as to what the experiment entailed and may have been pressured into taking part. One thing is for sure. The world’s collective human genome will never be the same. The genetic alterations created in He’s lab will potentially be passed down generations and between people. (Nov. 27, 2018)

The twins at the center of the CRISPRbabies uproar have been given pseudonyms, Lulu and Nana, will most likely be subject to scientific observation for the remainder of their lives in order to observe any off target effects due to the changes made in their genomes. It is yet another unfortunate consequence of He Jiankui’s cavalier attitude toward his subjects’ well being. (November 29, 2018)

According to China Daily, “He Jiankui, the Chinese researcher who claimed to have created the world’s first gene-edited babies, has been suspended from any scientific activities amid mounting questions from government agencies and academicians about the experiment.” (November 29, 2018)

Also in the news:

The New Haven, Connecticut-based biotechnology company Biohaven has set up an official subsidiary in Shanghai. The newly formed Bioshin will “develop and commercialize Biohaven’s migraine and neurology assets in China and other markets in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Chihaya Adachi has won the 2018 Nagoya Silver Medal. The Kyushu University scientist received the reward for his work on organic optoelectronics, organic semiconductor device properties, organic photophysics and photochemistry. Adachi Adachi is a professor of the Graduate School of Engineering and the director of the Center of Organic Photonics and Electronics Research.

IMAGE SOURCE: Screenshot

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