HONG KONG –(AP) – At the beginning of last year, a well-known Chinese scientist appeared at an elite meeting in…
HONG KONG –
(AP) – At the beginning of last year, a well-known Chinese scientist appeared at an elite meeting in Berkeley, California, where researchers and ethics discussed technology that had shaken the field to the core – an emerging tool for “editing” genes, the DNA strings that form the drawing of life.
The young researcher, He Jiankui, saw the power of this tool, called CRISPR, to transform not only genes but also his own career.
Upon visiting the United States, he sought out CRISPR pioneers like Jennifer Doudna at the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University’s Dr. Matthew Popeeus, and great thinker of its use, as Stanford Label Dr. William Hurlbut.
Last week, the shocked researchers saw that he captured an international conference that helped them organize with a surprising requirement: He said he helped make the world’s first reborn children despite a clear scientific consensus on making genetic changes that can Transmitted to future generations should not be attempted at this time.
U.S. The National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins called his experiment “a failure of a big blow” ̵
1; the main role “a scientist who apparently thought he was a hero. He actually went over every line, scientifically and ethically.”
But nobody stopped him. How could it be?
To be fair, researchers say there is no safe way to stop any intention of monkey with DNA, regardless of the laws or standards that are in place. CRISPR is cheap and easy to use – why researchers began to worry almost as soon as the technology was invented that something like that would happen.
And there is a long history of research research and medicine that launched early experiments with beauty or horror – some of them led to what are now common methods, such as in vitro fertilization.
Reproduction for reproductive purposes is effectively prohibited in the United States and throughout Europe. In China, ministerial guidelines prohibit embryo research as “violating ethical or moral principles.”
It turns out he was not exactly angry about his goals. He followed international experts at Stanford and Rice Universities, where he had studied doctoral studies and elsewhere, sought advice before and during the experiment.
Will researchers who knew His plans have spoken? Could they have scared him?
The answers are not clear.
“It does not fall into the category of legal responsibility, but ethical responsibility,” said Collins. He said not to speak “does not seem like a scientist taking responsibility.”
China’s National Health Department, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and his own university have said they were dark and then sentenced him.
But three Stanford researchers – Hurlbut, Porteus and his former fellow, Stephen Quake – had extensive contact with him in recent years. They and other scientists knew or strongly suspected that he intended to make genetically edited children.
Some confidence did not believe he would follow through; Others have noted concerns that were never followed.
Stanford has not responded to an interview request.
Quake, a biotechnology professor, was one of the first to know his ambition. Quake said that he had met him over the years when his former student was in town and that he trusted his interest a few years ago in editing live-born embryos to try to make them resistant to the AIDS virus.
Quake Sa He only gave him general advice and encourages him to talk to ordinary scientists, to choose situations where there is consensus that the risks are justified, to comply with the highest ethical norms and to publish their findings in a peer-reviewed journal .
“My advice was very wide,” said Quake.
Hurlbut believes he first met him in early 2017 when he and Doudna, co-founder of CRISPR, held the first of three meetings with leading researchers and ethics to discuss the technology. 19659004] “Somehow he ended up at our meeting,” Hurlbut said.
Since then, he returned to Stanford and Hurlbut saying that he “spent many hours” talked to him about situations where redecoration could be appropriate.
Four or five we Example, Hurlbut said he came to see him again and discussed embryo redevelopment to try to prevent HIV. Hurlbut said he suspected that he had attempted to implant a modified embryo into the woman’s uterus.
I challenged him, he said. “I did not understand what he was doing.”
Porteus said he knew he had talked to Hurlbut and Hurlbut assumed a deterrent to the Chinese scientist. In February, he asked to meet with Porteus and told him that he had received approval from a hospital’s ethics card to move on.
“I think he expected me to be more susceptible and I was very negative,” said Porteus. “I was angry at his naivete, I was angry at his ruthlessness.”
Porteus said that he urged him to “talk with your leading Chinese colleagues”.
After that meeting, I did not hear from him and assumed he would not continue, “said Porteus.” Afterwards, I could have raised a shade and cry. “
In a draft article, they rejoined the twin girls who He planned to send to magazines, he thanked UC Berkeley biophysics Mark DeWitt to “edit the script. “DeWitt said he tried to discourage him and questioned that he was editing the paper. He said he saw the paper, but the feedback he offered was” quite general. “
He claims that his work has resulted in a second pregnancy, can not be confirmed independent and his work has not been published. He defended his actions last week at a reunification meeting in Hong Kong.
However, another American researcher said he not only encourages him but played a major role in the project.
Michael Deem, biotechnology professor at rice university and his doctorate adviser said he had worked with him since the scientist returned to china around 2012 and that he is in advisory boards and holds a “small share” in that he is two genetics companies in shenzhen. deem defended he’s actions and says that the research team made previous experiments on animals.
“We have several generations of animals that were genetically edited and produced viable offspring “and much research on accidental effects on other genes, said Deem. Deem also said he was present in China when some study participants gave their consent to try out embryo editing.
Rice said that she had no knowledge of Deem’s involvement and is investigating now.
So far, most attention has been focused on
But it’s not the whole story, “says Rosario Isasi, an expert in genomics in the US and China at the University of Miami.
“Let’s focus on how it happened and why it happened, and how it happened,” says Isasi. “How can we create a better visibility system?”
There is no international board for enforcing rules for bioethics, but scientific organs and universities can use other tools.
“If anyone violates these rules, researchers may exclude magazines, refuse to publish, employers may refuse to hire, financiers may refuse to finance,” said Hank Greely, a professor of law and genetics in Stanford.
Expect his experiment to have ripple effects at the academy, regardless of whether it is regulating play theater. “Universities will take a tougher look at what’s happening. This event will alert everyone to any related research.”
Of course, bad start may come to an end.
1980, University of California, Los Angeles, Professor Martin Cline, was sanctioned to perform the first gene therapy of two women in Israel and Italy because he had not received approval to try it at UCLA.
Cline announced its work instead of publishing it in a scientific journal and criticism for trying “genetic engineering” on humans when its safety and efficacy had not yet been established in animals. Now, gene therapy is an established, yet quite novel, treatment method.
Two years earlier, in 1978, Dr. was convicted. Robert Edwards in the same way as he announced through the press the world’s first “test tube”, Louise Brown. The work was later awarded a Nobel Prize, and IFV has helped millions to have a child.
And this year, Louise Brown became the mother of two sons, old fashioned, 40 years old.
___  Larson reported from Washington, DC
This Associated Press series was produced in collaboration with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.