Site of the Human Gene Editing Summit: technical inventors explicitly oppose he Jiankui’s experiment

He jiankui did not appear on the agenda of the first day of the second international summit on human gene editing, where experts questioned the ethics and application procedures of his project.

Zhang feng, the inventor of the CRISPR Cas9 gene editing technology used by he jiankui, said at the scene that there are still many problems with the gene editing technology and it is not right to conduct experiments on humans.

On the first day of the second International Summit on Human Gene Editing, held at the University of Hong Kong, he Jiankui’s research became the focus of media attention.

In response, scientists at the meeting generally said that the project had problems from ethical practices to declaration procedures, and that the incident had seriously damaged the image of China’s scientific community, and experts called on the government to improve relevant laws and regulations as soon as possible and ensure that the implementation effect.

Inventor of CRISPR Cas9 gene editing technology: Zhang Feng

Is the experiment true? is it necessary? what if the baby is born?

According to existing reports, he Jiankui’s research uses CRISPR Cas9 gene editing technology, and Zhang Feng, the certified inventor of the technology, happened to be present at the conference.

Zhang Feng said that there are still many problems with gene editing technology, and experiments on people should not be carried out. He supports the practice of halting the transfer of edited embryos, as in the CCR5 trial, until a well-thought-out set of safety measures has been put in place before opening up.

At the same time, Zhang Feng said that there are other safer treatment options for AIDS, through gene editing to help infants resist HIV, is theoretically more effective and relatively safer.

But this needs to carry on more research through the experiment, repeatedly proved the feasibility and safety of the technology before it can be implemented. The risk of knockout of the CCR5 gene in human embryonic cells far outweighs the benefits.

It is reported that the current more representative AIDS prevention and treatment program is the mother-to-child blocking program, that is, after pregnant women with HIV infection become pregnant, through medication for pregnant women, medication for the birth of the baby, and artificial feeding. Stop the transmission of HIV from mother to child.

If you take the medicine regularly, give birth in hospital and stick to artificial feeding, the chances of a healthy baby are 85% to 95%.

However, the majority of experts present believe that the experiment is more likely to be real, because the technical difficulty of the experiment is not high, and there is no precedent for taking into account ethical and social implications.

At the same time, in the very serious genetic disease, the international community also has the gene therapy clinical trial precedent, but this also is the technical safety has not completely solved, has the big dispute treatment way.

“if children are born, we have to keep a close watch on them, and we need to pay close attention to the risks associated with a lack of immune function. Zhai Xiaomei, executive director of the Bioethics Research Center, said. She stressed, however, that these children were also autonomous and independent individuals and could not be subject to any restrictions, such as hindering their marriage.

But preventing two girls from marrying will plunge them into new human rights issues, which can be expected to be a never-ending controversy.

Compliance of he Jiankui’s experiment.

Several experts have explained the irrationality of he Jiankui’s experiment from ethics and declaration procedure.

Qiu Renzong, an honorary senior researcher at the Institute of philosophy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, revealed that he Jiankui was contacted at a national ethics-related conference earlier this year. At that time, he Jiankui said that he had done gene editing experiments on monkeys and mice, and that the next step was to do humans.

“but he didn’t say it was an experiment for children. “Qiu Renzong said,” he said that a lot of experiments have been made, a lot of investigations have been done, and a lot of work has been done to support him.I asked him whether he had passed the approval of the ethics committee at that time, and he said that he had done so, but he did not expect to pass the ethics review of the hospital in the United States. ”

Qiu Renzong said mainland China’s rules require institutions to assume the role of ethics committees, and scientists’ cases are examined by their counterparts, rather than looking for another hospital.

“from this point of view, he Jiankui to find Hemei Hospital as an ethics committee is fraudulent. “Furthermore, before the clinical trial, the results of the animal research should be released and the relevant institutions should examine the safety and effectiveness of the animal research, but he Jiankui’s study has not been published in advance,” he said, adding that he only publishes it through the media, which is not acceptable. It is impossible to censor the results of scientists through the media. ”

Jennifer Doudner, a professor of chemistry, molecular biology and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, also expressed doubts about the procedure in a public statement the day before yesterday. “the public needs to consider the following issues, and clinical reports are not published in peer-reviewed academic journals. Without peer-reviewed data, it is impossible to determine the accuracy of the gene editing process. ”

Zhai Xiaomei, who helped draft the ethical guidelines for human stem cells issued in 2003, also said that he’s research clearly violated two of the regulations, which prohibit gene editing for reproductive purposes and must be terminated within 14 days of human embryo research.

Moreover, he Jiankui’s experiment lets the human who does not have the prevention AIDS ability to have this ability, is surpasses the human own ability the change, belongs to the gene edition four big categories the gene enhancement category. This is a very controversial category, and now the academic community basically does not consider the use of research in this area.

However, he Jiankui may not be subject to substantive legal punishment, because the current management norms in the relevant fields are basically rules or regulations of the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the corresponding enforcement efforts after violation are very weak. No rise to the legal level and corresponding illegal measures.

Experts called for the incident to improve China’s laws and regulations in the relevant areas.

What is waiting for he Jiankui

But while he may not be legally bound, he may face challenges in his academic career.

Experts say he’s experiment has affected China’s international image in the field and will affect some important ongoing or planned clinical studies. Even more experts say that young Chinese scholars have been rejected when applying for foreign schools because of the incident.

“if the scientific community banished him together, he might no longer be able to rise to the top of the academic circle, and his work would end there. “it means that the academic career is over,” Zhai said. “

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