I support this kind of innovation and understand that the marketing buzz is necessary for the projects to raise funds
just keep in mind that those titles sometimes are pretty far from reality
That particular receptor which the mutation affects is also what some HIV drugs especially the post exposure ones target.
Edit: looks like 2-4% of Europeans have the mutation world wide population is closer to 1%
Or maybe a greater degree of ethics? But classes like this might not have any affect unless there are teeth in laws that prosecute knowingly publishing falsehoods.
The title seems to be pretty ok in my opinion
- find right change to make
- make that change in target cell without any off-target changes to other genes.
- efficiency - being able to change enough of the cells to have the desired effect.
The last one is probably the hardest if the cell type isn't something you can easily take out of the body, change, grow up and put back.
By far the best way to make a whole body change would be to change one cell ( the embyro/egg/sperm ) and let nature take it's course - however that has the 'playing god with human evolution' concern.
Delivery mechanisms are key - you have to get your therapeutic inside each cell - this is hard and even harder to do in a cell type specific way.
It's much easier to do ex-vivo than in-vivo:
( see the diagram on this page )
How many cells you need all depends on the biology of what you are trying to do - there is no universal answer.
So you might need a small number cells if you are changing the messages the changed cells send to other cells through control networks.
In other cases, where the change only changes that cell - you might need to change a large number to see an effect.
Don't mean to derail this entire thread, but even as someone who believes in God, I find it increasingly harder to understand what objectively is wrong about these purported ethical dilemmas (e.g. cloning)
ie how do you choose between the ethical ones and the unethical ones?
So if I found a mutation I could make to make people of a compliant disposition I could make an army of slaves.
Note this is someone changing people before they are born ( this is to some extent the playing god bit - you are making a choice for somebody else - not yet born ).
Most people who consider that to be not acceptable.
Or how about a mutation that made people better soliders - one of the problems with warfare is the soliders can be mentally damaged by the things they have done or seen - surely it's better to make a solider that is unaffected....
ie the opportunities for good and evil are enormous - but until you have a mechanism to decide between those, it's easier to blanket ban.
Even something that, on the face of it is benign - like a mutation that reduces the risk of heart attack - what happens if you later find out that it increases the risk of something else? You can't undo it later ( only for subsequent children by the same procedure ) - for the people already impacted.
Again, the cautionary principle applies.
Believer in God here, and, like you, I find these "playing God" concerns to be largely unfounded, and often based in fear-of-the-unknown more than objectivity.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, some religious groups opposed surgery because it was playing god; "disfiguring the divine image." But today, we religious people almost invariably welcome such medical advances: the good they do far outweighs any theoretical fear-based concerns. I think the same will happen with modern medical advances.
And, theologically in the Jewish and Christian Bible, God has given humans dominion over nature. I see medical advances -- including surgery, blood transfusions, vaccines, and yes, gene editing -- as exercising that dominion to help heal people and reduce suffering.
That assumption of knowing better than the person affected is 'playing god' in a way that doing a surgical procedure on a consenting person isn't.
Obviously that stuff is already done today - abortion or medical intervention at an early stage where the parent acts on behalf of the person.
One of the things that's different is the scope and power of these techniques.
Look at the diversity of domestic dogs, from great danes to toy dog breeds - that all came through selective breeding from the same wolf ancestor in a few thousand years.
Also remember that humans are 99% the same as chimps at the DNA level and about 85% with mice.
Direct, untrammeled genetic modification of humans could unleash huge changes in a very short time.
Until we are clear about how we want to manage that, it's easier to have a moratorium.
There's been some work on broad spectrum anti-virals but I don't know where that is right now.
There isn't a reason why it couldn't be used against other viruses, although it may be more economical to sip chicken soup for a cold and keep your flu shots up to date.
* no because of non-human animal hosts for some viruses
* no because everyone would die if everyone actually stayed home for 2 weeks
* no because some people might be long-term carriers of some viral strains (maybe because of compromised immune systems?)
* no because people's homes aren't properly isolated from one another (e.g. within an apartment building)
* no because a virus could slowly spread between unlucky members of a single household and thereby persist within the household for many weeks at a time
To do it for other viruses, you'd have to know a specific genetic variant that confers immunity.
"The chinese", really? That was one single rogue Chinese scientist.
> Last year Chinese researcher He Jiankui caused a global outcry ...
Ethics aside, it’s definitely more than one Chinese scientist working in this area.
Perhaps the title should have been "Two rogue scientists are checking out CRISPR"
So editing genes of adults is ok but babies is not? This article sounds so positive and supportive of the act ... I'm a bit confused.
Adults can consent.
Though like most ethical issues people don’t have universal objections.
The very brief discussion about it in genome.gov even mentioned that.
For a genetic change to be passed on it has to appear in the male or female gametes ( sperm/egg ). So if I change your skins cells that change isn't in your sperm/egg so can't be passed on.
When you edit an embyro at an early stage you are effectively changing all cells - including gametes - so the change has impacts beyond the immediate individual.
It's one thing to fix a disease in utero, or avoid the disease in the first place (as in mitochondrial transfers for genetic mitochondrial diseases). It's another to try and blithely "improve" a baby.
It's one thing to enable a viable birth for a child that would otherwise be 100% guaranteed to have a life-limiting genetic disease, but modifying a gene- a gene we do not know that much about- on the chance of reducing a 5% risk of contracting a virus that can be effectively treated- is pretty well beyond what most people would consider ethical.
To put it another way: there would be a 95% chance any CRISPR modifications would have not prevented the baby contracting HIV because 95 out of 100 such babies wouldn't have contracted HIV anyway. And those 95 babies (and at least some of their children) would live with that genetic variant forever.
If the baby was going to be nonviable and you had the chance to eliminate the disease by knocking out a faulty gene or replacing it with the version of the gene everyone else has, that's one thing. But this is a rare gene variant. There may be a reason why only a small proportion of people have it! It could well be that the side-effects of lifetime ART are actually better than the unknown side-effects of this gene.