Editing Embryos To Immunise From Infectiony

Scientists at Guangzhou Medical University have been performing a new (and to some morally questionable) experiment to see if it was possible to take a human embryo (that had been rejected for in vitro fertilisation) and make it immune to HIV. By using the Cas9 protein that is designed for breaking the double helix of DNA but disabling one cutting side it is possible to home in and edit a genome to produce semicontrolled results. Everybody contains an immune cell gene called CCR5 but in some people it has mutated to grant immunity from HIV. Now the modification to grant immunity worked about 16% of the time; sometimes it didn’t work at all and at others it caused an unwanted mutation to form instead. This is very similar to research conducted last year in China but aimed at blood diseases rather than HIV. These kind of experiments have brought up much ethical opposition about whether use on actual embryos was necessary or whether the research could have been done from a purely chemical standpoint. In the end these are questions that scientists can’t answer and it is up to everyday people to decide on the morality of such actions


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