Ethics: China breaks genome taboo – to prevent HIV


In China, apparently, twins were born whose genetic material was altered by the use of genetic scissors to make children immune to HIV infection. It would be the first intervention in the human germ line.

According to the AP news agency He Jiankui of the South University of Science and Technology of China in Shenzhen in artificial insemination in germ cells, the entry molecular portal removes, through which HI viruses can infect the cell. O The genetic modification is therefore final and it would be with a procreation of the two twin sisters inherited to be. It is precisely here that the ethical limit has been established: genetically modified embryos have been produced but not delivered to exclude "contamination" of the human genome as long as the technology remains unexplored.

In fact, manipulating the (human) genome can be more easily compared to working in a large factory that does not have a functional and complete construction plan. Although the installer knows which line goes where and what happens there, whether it splits in the path or joins another line is unknown.

The consequences of genetic engineering for humanity's future are hard to predict – both negative and positive. Ethical discussions were stuck in an ideologically charged stalemate for many years. As in the case of dolly cloning, China is now also driving the development of human genetics and creating facts.

According to He Jiankui, the two girls are healthy. The gene scissors worked completely with a sister, but with the incomplete twin sister.

Germany is also working on a common cause for HIV treatment

Searching since 2005 Scientist at the Heinrich Pette Institute in Hamburg, also in a revolutionary method to "cut" the HI virus by means of a molecular gene scissors of the body. This has already worked on rats. The difference to the now seemingly involved in the human genome, change the scientists of Hamburg without stem cells and work on the already developed organism on individual cell plants, An inheritance is not possible and with humans also the altered gene dies.

Our report on the Hamburg gene shears


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