'Of course it's not ethical': shock at gene-edited baby claims

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Chinese geneticist He Jiankui’s claim to have altered embryos prompts outcry from scientists

Scientists have expressed anger and doubt over a Chinese geneticist’s claim to have edited the genes of twin girls before birth, as government agencies ordered investigations into the experiment.

A global outcry started after the genetic scientist He Jiankui claimed in a video posted on YouTube on Monday that he had used the gene-editing tool Crispr-Cas9 to modify a particular gene in two embryos before they were placed in their mother’s womb.

Related: Gene-edited babies: no one has the moral warrant to go it alone

Crispr, or to give it its full name, Crispr-Cas9, allows scientists to precisely target and edit pieces of the genome. Crispr is a guide molecule made of RNA, that allows a specific site of interest on the DNA double helix to be targeted. The RNA molecule is attached to Cas9, a bacterial enzyme that works as a pair of “molecular scissors” to cut the DNA at the exact point required. This allows scientists to cut, paste and delete single letters of genetic code. 

Related: Super-smart designer babies could be on offer soon. But is that ethical? | Philip Ball

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Source: china
Link : ‘Of course it’s not ethical’: shock at gene-edited baby claims


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