Thursday, November 29, 2018

Human Embryo Editing

Image result for human embryoEnvironmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

I want to say something about the outrageous "experiment," conducted by Jiankui He involving implanted human embryos. He, by the way, refers to this as a "study." Whew! Phew! Ugh! Aargh!

You may have seen He's justification for doing this quoted in the November 27, 2018 issue of the Star Tribune (from the Associated Press by Christina Larson). "There will be someone, somewhere, who is doing this. If it's not me, it's someone else."  Larson's piece is worth reading.

The general area is far beyond my technical expertise and knowledge but not beyond my outrage. It isn't science in any sense that I know and love, indeed it seems to me to be a violation of science. I also hope that He will never be allowed to wear a lab coat again or approach a lab bench for the rest of his days.

Today, Lily Kuo reported in the Guardian (there are some links in the article) on the response of the Chinese government. “The genetically edited infant incident reported by media blatantly violated China’s relevant laws and regulations. It has also violated the ethical bottom line that the academic community adheres to.... Xu called for the suspension of any scientific or technological activities by those involved in He’s work."
If you are interested in further information about the CRISPR human baby story this short article by Derek Lowe who writes an editorially independent blog from the publishers of Science Translation Medicine is spot on. Lowe notes, as others have, that Dr. Jiankui He's "experiment" is worse, much worse, than first reported. Lowe includes links to He's presentation at the Second International Human Genome Summit in Hong Kong as well as an interesting Twitter thread (technical mostly) on the presentation and a great article by STAT's Sharon Begley. 

P.S. The Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing has concluded and the organizing committee released a statement on human genome editing. It is organized around what was heard at this summit: an unexpected and deeply disturbing claim that human embryos had been edited and implanted, resulting in a pregnancy and the birth of twins. It may be read here.

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