Researchers used the CRISPR / Cas9 technique in two twins to make them resistant to diseases such as HIV, cholera, or smallpox.
Chinese scientists say they have created the first genetically modified babies in the world, according to the US publication MIT Technology Review, although the Shenzhen University they are working on has no data on this study.
Researchers used the CRISPR / Cas9 technique in two twins to make them resistant to diseases such as HIV, cholera or smallpox, according to data released Sunday by the specialized journal.
Although MIT emphasizes that work has not yet been published in any scientific journal, lead researcher He Jiankui has released a video posted on YouTube about the fertilization process that followed to bring about the birth of the two twins, Lulu and Nana, genetically modified.
"The results show that the surgery works properly as planned," he says in the video, which emphasizes that girls have their genes so they can not get HIV.
According to him, the genetic modification is not intended to eliminate genetic diseases, but to "give girls a natural ability to resist possible future HIV infection."
To do this, researchers deactivated the "CCR5 gene, which would actually be an improvement in DNA," he said, adding that next month "more details will be released for the study."
Developing this plan that uses technology banned in the United States and Europe can create controversy, as some scientists see a new form of medicine that eliminates genetic disease, others see some form of eugenics.
The university has no data on the study of He and the Shenzhen health authorities "have not received any request" to fulfill it, China reports today.
The Chinese newspaper adds that the study "sparked controversy" between academics and citizens of the country "about its ethics and efficiency."
"Genetic editing technology is far from mature and should not be used in humans," said scientist Wu Zuniu in a newspaper that is "inappropriate" to do such research in humans.
In 2016, a group of Chinese scientists became pioneers in the use of CRISPR genetic modification technology in humans, especially in lung cancer patients, reported by Nature magazine.
Scientists in the UK, however, found that CRISPR gene editing technology could cause more cell damage than it was supposed, according to a study published this year by the same journal.