Genetic Manipulation Enters a New Era As Chinese Scientist Oversees Birth of First Successfully Gene-Edited Babies
by Jordan Hilger, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - The science world is abuzz with news of the world's first successfully gene-edited babies.
Chinese scientist He Jiankui claimed at a conference in November that he had used CRISPR-Cas9 to successfully eliminate HIV-associated genes in twin girls.
A method by which special proteins are used to excise bad genes, the CRISPR technique's potential has drawn concern from Christian and non-Christian scientists alike.
"Some people won't be able to resist the temptation to improve human characteristics, such as memory, resistance to disease, and length of life," warned the late Stephen Hawking in a posthumously published essay.
Referring to the process as "self-designed evolution," Hawking speculated that gene-editing could lead to the oppression of a genetic underclass by a race of superhumans.
"Once such superhumans appear, there will be significant political problems with unimproved humans, who won't be able to compete."
While lauding the CRISPR technique's applicability to disease prevention, Human Genome Project leader and Christian scientist Francis Collins published a scathing rebuke of Jiankui's initial experiment.
"Should such epic scientific misadventures proceed, a technology with enormous promise for prevention and treatment of disease will be overshadowed by justifiable public outrage, fear, and disgust," wrote Collins in a statement released by National Institutes of Health.
The onetime director of the Human Genome Project additionally upbraided a "willingness by Dr. He and his team to flout international ethical norms," and cited the "need for development of binding international consensus on setting limits for this kind of research."
He Jiankui's experiment is the first, but likely not the last, to produce genetically modified humans as a result of the successful mapping of the human genome in 2003.