The researchers used the technique of CRISPR / Cas9 in two twin to make them resistant to diseases such as HIV, cholera or smallpox.
Chinese scientists say they have created the first genetically modified babies in the world, according to the US publication 'MIT Technology Review', although the University of Shenzhen in which they work are not aware of this study.
The researchers used the technique of CRISPR / Cas9 in two twins to make them resistant to diseases such as HIV, cholera or smallpox, according to the data released this Sunday by the specialized magazine.
Although MIT emphasizes that the work has not yet been published in any scientific journal, the investigator to the front, He Jiankui, has released in a video posted on YouTube the process of fertilization that followed until the birth of this month of the two twins , Lulu and Nana, genetically modified.
"The results indicated that the operation worked correctly, as planned," says He in the video, which highlights that girls have their genes modified so they can not get HIV.
According to He, genetic modification does not have the objective of eliminating genetic diseases, but of "giving girls the natural ability to withstand a possible future HIV infection."
To do this, the researchers 'deactivated' the CCR5 gene, which in practice would be a DNA improvement, says He, who adds that next month "will be released more details about the investigation."
The development of this plan, which uses technology prohibited in the United States and Europe, could generate controversy, since where some scientists see a new form of medicine that eliminates genetic diseases, others see a form of eugenics.
The university has no record of He's study and the Shenzhen authorities "did not receive any request" to carry it out, reports China Daily today.
The Chinese newspaper adds that the study "has unleashed controversy" among academics and citizens of the country "because of its ethics and its effectiveness."
"Genetic editing technology is far from mature and should not be used in humans," scientist Wu Zunyou told reporters, for whom it is "inadequate" to conduct such research in humans.
In 2016, a group of Chinese scientists became pioneers in human use, in particular with patients with lung cancer, CRISPR genetic modification technology, Nature magazine reported.
However, scientists in the UK found that CRISPR genetic editing technology could cause more damage to cells than previously believed, according to a study published this year by the same magazine.