China plans to impose rules for gene editing after controversial research with human embryos
- China will impose more restrictions on tests that process the human genome
- In a concept of Chinese civil law, human genes are protected as a personal right
- The limitations come after a controversial process that has crafted two human babies
- China has not banned the human test, but scientists must first do good research
After a global setback with the use of CRISPR for genetic processing on human embryos, China will further tighten the regulation of manipulating the human genome.
According to a report in Nature, a draft new code in the civil law of the country explicitly includes human genes and embryos as protected personal rights for the first time.
Lawyers interviewed by nature say that the law can hold a doctor or scientist working on the editing of the human genome liable for the outcome of their experiments.
China continues to tighten restrictions on editing human genomes after a controversial trial by one of the country's scientists last year
& # 39; The law makes it clear that those who do research on human genes and embryos should not endanger human health or violate ethics & # 39 ;, says Zhang Peng, a law researcher from Beijing Wuzi University to Nature.
Nature reports that the draft of the code was submitted to China's top legislative body last month and is likely to be ratified next year.
The country's decision to codify rules on the use of CRISPR to edit people's genes & # 39; follows an incident last year in which a Chinese scientist claims to have modified the genome of two twins to make them resistant to HIV.
The announcement by researcher He Jiankui marked a precedent in science and medicine that many doctors around the world called unethical, citing the lack of peer-reviewed literature on the ultimate effects of such manipulation on humans.
& # 39; Ominous … an experiment with people that is not morally or ethically defensible; Kiran Musunuru, an expert in gene editing and editor of a genetic magazine at the University of Pennsylvania. Associated Press follow the news.
CRISPR is both simple and effective in editing people's genomes and more. This tool allows scientists to effectively copy & # 39; genes & # 39; and & # 39; paste & # 39 ;.
This month, a group of bioethics from China also called on the country to drastically change its approach to human genomic experiments.
& # 39; China is at a crossroads, & # 39; wrote researchers. & # 39; The government must make substantial changes to protect others from the potential consequences of reckless human experimentation. & # 39;
While the law reinforces the country's grasp of medical research regarding the use of CRISPR for processing human genomes, the position of the country with regard to practice stops far below an outright moratorium.
He jiankui shocked the scientific world when he announced that he has genetically modified two human embryos using a tool called CRISPR to make them HIV-resistant.
In March, China & # 39; s legislature introduced regulations that require scientists to get approval from the best health agency in the country before conducting experiments involving cells being processed in the human body.
The law would impose fines and penalties with regard to the eligibility of grant applications and reaffirms that unauthorized use of genetics tools may violate national law.
Because both technologies, such as CRISPR, and research into how the functions of the human genome expand, the prospects of being able to selectively process human genes to achieve an outcome are increasingly becoming reality.
In an ideal scenario, technology could be used to guard against genetic diseases and to benefit people worldwide.
Conversely, skeptics say that the tool may also open the door to a series of other consequences, including:genetic inequality& # 39; where only those who can afford to improve their genes are able.
Unknown ripple effects from editing only a single gene in a person's body are also included. Babies changed during the genetic test of He Jiankui may have unintended genes related to human cognition and memory unlocked according to MIT.
WHAT IS CRISPR-CAS9?
CRISPR-Cas9 is a tool for making precise operations in DNA discovered in bacteria.
The acronym stands for & # 39; Clustered Regularly Inter-Spaced Palindromic Repeats & # 39 ;.
The technique includes a DNA cutting enzyme and a small label that tells the enzyme where to cut.
The CRISPR / Cas9 technique uses tags that identify the location of the mutation and an enzyme that acts as a small pair of scissors to cut DNA in a precise location, allowing small parts of a gene to be removed
By editing this tag, scientists can target the enzyme to specific parts of the DNA and make precise cuts wherever they want.
It has been used to silence genes & # 39; & # 39; – and effectively disable them.
When cellular machines repair the DNA break, it removes a small piece of DNA.
In this way researchers can precisely switch off specific genes in the genome.
The approach has previously been used to process the HBB gene that is responsible for a condition called β-thalassemia.
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