HONG KONG: Chinese scientist He Jiankui of Shenzhen has claimed that he has created the world's first genetically-edited babies, in a potentially ground-breaking and controversial medical first.
He said that he altered the DNA of twin girls with a powerful new tool which is capable of rewriting the very blueprint of life. If the claim proves to be true, it will be a huge leap in the world of science. The idea of altering with a DNA has been controversial since many scientists think it's too unsafe to try.
Giving details about his research, the scientist said that he altered embryos for seven couples during fertility treatments. He claims he does not aim to cure an inherited disease but to try to bestow an ability to resist people from passing on future infection with HIV, the Aids virus.
The claims cannot be independently verified and have not been published in any journal yet to be available for scrutiny by others. "I feel a strong responsibility that it's not just to make a first, but also make it an example," he was quoted as saying in a news report. He added that "society will decide what to do next" when it comes to allowing or forbidding such a science.
Scientists have in the recent past discovered easier ways to edit genes. With the help of a tool called CRISPR-cas9, it is possible to operate on DNA to supply a gene that is needed or disable the one that is the cause of problems.