Headline, March 11 2022/ ''' '' ON BIOTECHNOLOGY OH '' '''


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GENE EDITING AND THE FUTURE OF REPRODUCTIVE MEDICINE : The desire for profit is colliding with fundamental values related to human health, equity and diversity.

SINCE JAMES WATSON AND FRANCIS CRICK first described the structure of the DNA double helix, scientists have debated the potential for creating genetically modified babies.

In 2018, a Chinese scientist named He Jiankui announced he had actually done it : He used a gene editing tool called CRISPR to edit the embryos of twin girls in hopes of making them resistant to H.I.V.

China's laws governing reproductive medicine and gene editing were ill defined at the time. But outrage among scientists and the public led Dr. He being sentenced to prison for three years on charges of ''illegal medical practice,'' under a broad statute, and denounced as pursuing ''personal fame and profit.''

China has since tightened its laws governing gene editing and fertility medicine. Dr. He moved too quickly, and failed to demonstrate that he actually protected the twins from H.I.V. Governments and the scientific community should develop clear legal frameworks to prevent rogue scientists from following in his footsteps.

I wrote a book about Dr. He's experience and I've been speaking with him regularly since he was released from prison in March 2022. ''Reflecting on the criticism has given me new insights,'' he told me. Yet Dr. He recently started new biotechnology ventures that show signs of repeating his earlier ethical missteps. 

The controversy offers an opportunity for more robust discussion over the future of gene editing technologies in fertility clinics.

Dr. He's story illustrates the unresolved problem with the innovation economy. Market values -prioritizing speed, profit and breakthroughs - are colliding with more fundamental values related to human health, equity and diversity.

Dr. He trained for a year at Stanford University, in the heart of Silicon Valley, where technologists ''move fast and break things.'' Government incentives drew him back to China in 2012, where he established a laboratory in Shenzhen, a city itself known for speed and innovation.

After founding a startup company, valued at $312 million, he cashed some of the company's stock to fund his CRISPR venture.

Communist Party officials had initially supported Dr. He's CRISPR research in the context of President Xi Jinping's China Dream - a policy that supports - ''cutting edge frontier technologies'' to make China a country of innovators.'' And so, Dr. He said, he thought he would become a national hero. He was surprised when he became a pariah.

Bioethics scholars have argued that Dr. He should not be allowed to publish his research, because he has violated fundamental principles and norms of science. I disagree. Much remains to be learned from his ethical missteps, as well as from his scientific data.

His claims about engineering resistance to H.I.V. should be given the critical scrutiny that comes with scientific peer review. His original data should be published so that the scientific community can learn about the possibilities and problems of CRISPR in reproductive medicine.

If his technique worked, broad ethical questions need to be addressed, not brushed under the rug. If we can make effective edits to the DNA of human embryos, SHOULD WE?

Using CRISPR on embryos could change the genetic makeup of future generations in a variety of ways. Some form of deafness and blindness might be targeted with gene editing tools before children are born.

Doctors might use gene editing techniques in embryos to repair congenital diseases like sickle-cell anemia and cystic fibrosis.

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are enlisting CRISPR scientists in a quest to design perfect babies.

GIVEN the potential misuse of the technology, the benefits of using CRISPR in fertility medicine may not outweigh the risks. Collectively, we could decide to put this technology back in the box, and CRISPR gene editing for reproductive uses could go the way of human cloning, and be outlawed.

OR, leaders from science and civil society could decide that some uses of gene editing are permissible in human embryos - if CRISPR can produce solutions to pervasive medical problems, for example.

But new ethical guidelines and legal codes are needed to govern this technology in the fertility clinic.

The Honour and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on DNA of human embryos, CRISPR and the future of Science and Mankind, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Professor of anthropology Eben Kirksey, Oxford University, for his Opinion.

With respectful dedication to Mankind, Research Scientists, and then Students, Professors and Teachers of the world.

See Ya all consider and prepare your global identity for Global Elections on The World Students  Society - the exclusive ownership of every student : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! -The Ecosystem 2011 :

Good Night and God Bless

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