First gene-edited babies created in CONTROVERSIAL scientific breakthrough

First gene-edited babies created in CONTROVERSIAL scientific breakthrough

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A CHINESE researcher claims he has created the first genetically modified babies as twins were born with altered DNA.

The researcher, He Jiankui of Shenzhen, said he altered embryos for seven couples during fertility treatments.

One of the women got pregnant with twins who Mr Jiankui hopes will have the ability to resist future infections.

The team planned to eliminate a gene called CCR5 in hopes of rendering the offspring resistant to HIV, smallpox, and cholera.

The incredible breakthrough is possible after the invention of a powerful gene-editing tool, CRISPR

Many scientists have denounced it as human experimentation.

A US scientist said he was involved in the work in China, but this kind of gene editing is banned in the United States.

This is because it is said that DNA changes can pass to future generations and it risks harming other genes.

The gene-editing of babies is seen by some as a slippery slope to enhancements or designer children.

David Baltimore, a biologist and former president of the California Institute of Technology, said it is also unknown what the effect will be generations in the future.

He said: “We have never done anything that will change the genes of the human race, and we have never done anything that will have effects that will go on through the generations.”

But Mr Jiankui and his team, writing in an ethics statement they submitted last year, believe the research is important.

They said: “In this ever more competitive global pursuit of applications for gene editing, we hope to be a stand-out.”

The team predicted their innovation “will surpass” the invention of in vitro fertilization, whose developer was awarded a Nobel Prize in 2010.

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