Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-56f9d74cfd-s5lbf Total loading time: 0.387 Render date: 2022-06-25T09:18:15.213Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true }

22 - Chinese Scientists are Creating Crispr Babies

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 December 2021

Eben Kirksey
Affiliation:
Deakin University, Victoria
Get access

Summary

As delegates were starting to gather in Hong Kong for the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing, Antonio Regalado was sitting at home in Somerville, Massachusetts, at his wife's desk. It was the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. Antonio was under deadline pressure. His editor at the MIT Technology Review had given him leave for an extended research trip to China, where the aim was to investigate the flurry of CRISPR activity with human embryos on the mainland. The trip had concluded a few weeks earlier. It was time to file the story, but he was still fishing for a big scoop.

Antonio had traveled to Guangzhou and Shanghai, where he talked with key Chinese scientists. In Guangzhou he had interviewed Dr. Junjiu Huang, the scientist who grabbed headlines in April 2015 for creating the first CRISPR-modified embryo. A movie trailer dramatizes his investigative journey with a dark ambient soundtrack that invokes Blade Runner: “It's finding needles in stacks of needles,” Antonio says. “There is a cover-up. Babies whose genomes have been mutated as part of the international science race.”

Antonio Regalado interviewed Jiankui He while on his investigative journey in China. The pair talked about his preclinical research with CCR5 and in broad terms about the future of related research in the clinic.

Fishing around for information that Sunday morning in Massachusetts, Antonio simply Googled “Jiankui He CCR5.” Trolling through the results, he found a document, in English, that had been uploaded in China's clinical trial registry just a few weeks before. Dr. He's lab reported that an experiment was under way. Anyone with an internet connection and the right search terms could read about a CRISPR clinical trial recruiting HIV-positive patients with infertility problems. The document did not have many details, but it clearly said the aim was to help “healthy children to avoid HIV providing new insights for the future elimination of major genetic diseases in early human embryos.”

Dr. He's phone rang on Monday morning in Shenzhen. He was getting ready to head across the border for the summit in Hong Kong. Antonio confronted him with the information about the experiment he’d found online, but Dr. He was not willing to talk.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Mutant Project
Inside the Global Race to Genetically Modify Humans
, pp. 230 - 232
Publisher: Bristol University Press
Print publication year: 2021

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×