A scientist, Dr He Jiankui, from China claims to have helped make the world’s first genetically-edited humans – twin girls whose DNA he claims to have altered during fertility treatments of the parents. According to Dr He, the DNA of the twin girls was altered by him with using a powerful new gene editing tool. He claims that the girls, born a few weeks ago, are resistant to the HIV virus, which leads to AIDS in humans.
While a US scientist also claims to have taken part in the research work in China, gene editing of this kind is forbidden in the Unites States owing to the potential risk that altered DNA could lead to unintended alterations in other genes, resulting deformities from which may pass down to future generations. Gene editing is also banned in Britain and several other countries across the globe. Researchers state that even if Dr. He’s claims are true, they are not ethically or morally defensible.
During exclusive interviews, Dr. He claimed that behind his experiment, the goal was not to prevent or cure AIDS – an inheritable disease – but to try to grant the embryo the ability to resist infection with the HIV virus; some people have the ability to resist HIV infection naturally. Apart from these interviews, there is no independent confirmation of the claims from this research. Moreover, the experiment has not been published in a journal, where the claims can be assessed by other experts, and the parents involved in the study have declines to be interviewed or identified.