HIV, which leads to AIDS, has been one of the most controversial yet serious public health issues in the world. Anyone could have this type of disease, even for unborn babies. In 2019, China find a solution for this problem by genetically-designing the embryo in order for the baby to prevent the development of HIV before it was even born.
Chinese twins had their gene erased in lab
In 2019, Chinese twins named Lulu and Nana, reportedly had their genes removed-- even before they were born.
The gene is called 'CCR5.' Using an editing tool named CRISPR, Chinese scientist He Jiankui had managed to wipe off the said gene from the twins.
As explained, specifically, this type of human genes enables humans to contract HIV. It also has its impact on stroke survivors, that once removed, the gene induces the patient's motor cells.
Thus, making his recovery faster than what's expected.
Alcino Silva, a neurobiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who first discovered about the harmful effects of the specific human genes, had also added that the babies' brains could actually be affected with the removal of CCR5-- causing them to have enhanced memory and cognition than a normal person.
"The answer is likely yes, it did affect their brains," Alcino J. Silva, a neurobiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, whose lab studied the CCR5 gene's role in memory and cognition, told MIT Technology Review. "The simplest interpretation is that those mutations will probably have an impact on cognitive function in the twins."
Though he supported the harm of CCR5 on humans, he did not support He for doing the experiment.
"I suddenly realized, 'Oh, holy s***, they are really serious about this bulls***,'" he told MIT Technology Review.
After all, he concludes that the technology is too premature that its effects on both physiological and philosophical humans are still unknown.
"Could it be conceivable that at one point in the future we could increase the average IQ of the population? I would not be a scientist if I said no. The work in mice demonstrates the answer may be yes. But mice are not people. We simply don't know what the consequences will be in mucking around. We are not ready for it yet," warns him.
Why this calls for an alarming start
We all know that dealing with human structure or genes is a very dangerous thing to do, even for educated scientists.
That is what Jennifer Doudna, a chemistry and molecular and cell biology professor at UC Berkeley and co-inventor of CRISPR, also said about their experiment.
She implies that a lot of things could actually happen to a human once his genes are rearranged, replaced, and especially removed. The study was even more dangerous since it was not peer-reviewed by anyone, thus not 100% sure that its safe, or effective.
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Written by Jamie Pancho
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