Chinese scientists report that the first genetically modified babies have been born, according to reports from the MIT Technology Review. The twin babies, named Lulu and Nana, were supposedly genetically modified in such a way as to prevent them from contracting illnesses including AIDS. It did not take long for this to become a point of controversy. The University of Shenzhen where the main researcher He Jinkui works, has opened an investigation and considers that He’s work “seriously violated academic ethics and standards”. He has been on leave from teaching at the university since this February.
The researchers used a technique called CRISPR / Cas9 to ensure that the two twins are resistant to diseases such as AIDS, cholera and smallpox. The work has not yet been published in any scientific journal, but He Jinkui, has released a video on YouTube. The video shows the fertilization process that was followed up to the birth of the genetically modified twins this month. According to the Chinese scientist, the objective of genetic modification is not to eliminate genetic diseases, but “to give the girls the natural ability to withstand a future infection of the virus that causes AIDS”. To make this possible, the researchers “deactivated” the CCR5 gene.