Son of Frankenstein? UK Body Backs Human Embryo Gene Editing – Astute News
Take the statement from the Nuffield Council on Bioethics report: “We refer to these as ‘heritable genome editing interventions’ since the altered DNA may be passed to future generations…” The altered DNA may be passed to future generations?… And what if the altered DNA goes awry and that too is passed to future generations?
The scientist who first suggested developing gene drives in gene editing, Harvard biologist Kevin Esvelt, has publicly warned that development of gene editing, in conjunction with gene drive technologies, have alarming potential to go awry. He notes how often CRISPR messes up and the likelihood of mutations arising, making even benign gene drives aggressive. He stresses, “Just a few engineered organisms could irrevocably alter an ecosystem.” Esvelt’s computer gene drive simulations calculated that a resulting edited gene, “can spread to 99 percent of a population in as few as 10 generations, and persist for more than 200 generations.”
He was discussing gene editing of mosquitoes. Now the debate is moving on to gene editing of human embryos.
UK Francis Crick Institute
The experiments have already begun, though researchers rush to stress they are with “donated embryos,” not implanted after into the womb of a woman, but killed after several days of lab experimenting. Two years ago, researchers in China used human embryos given by donors of embryos that could not have resulted in a live birth, to edit a specific gene. The results were a bad failure. The tested cells failed to contain the intended genetic material. Lead researcher Jungiu Huang told Nature, “That’s why we stopped. We still think it’s too immature.”