A Russian scientist who wants to use controversial gene processing to give a deaf couple a hearing baby, seeks support from Vladimir Putin's daughter.
Denis Rebrikov revealed in the summer that he wants to use the Crispr DNA processing technique to help the couple prevent their planned child from inheriting their condition.
Deafness is caused by a missing part of the DNA that means a person's hearing never develops again – something that Rebrikov believes he can fix with the help of gene editing science.
But his plans come in for heavy criticism from the scientific community and 150-year-old British academic journal Nature who have warned that the dangers of DNA being passed on to the offspring are not well understood, as reported by Bloomberg.
After the turmoil, the top Russian scientists promised a secret meeting in the south of Moscow with the oldest daughter of Vladimir Putin, an endocrinologist, to discuss Rebrikov's plans.
Denis Rebrikov revealed in the summer that he wants to use a DNA processing technique called Crispr, to help a deaf couple who want to prevent their planned child from inheriting their condition.
Realistically, Putin is the only one who can make the use of technology green, and gets Maria Vorontsova's ear in the photo, his oldest daughter
Realistically, Putin is the only one who can make the use of technology green and hear the ear of his daughter Maria Vorontsova, who left the three-hour meeting without a definitive & # 39; yes or no & # 39; to answer.
Vorontsova – who works at the National Endocrinology Research Center – said, however, that gene editing should be banned in the private sector and that you cannot stop scientific progress.
Putin himself has barely avoided the subject and said in 2017 that people & # 39; pre-birth DNA & # 39; edit quickly.
And the 66-year-old also said he thinks the impact of gene editing could have an even greater impact on society than artificial intelligence.
Vorontsova & # 39; s remarks at the meeting have prompted proponents of Rebrikov's cause at the meeting to have confidence in Rebrikov's application that he wants to submit to the Ministry of Health in October.
Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, declined to comment on Bloomsburg about gene processing.
But given the size of the decision and the fact that Putin has allocated $ 2 billion for genetic research, and his daughter supervises the work, it seems unlikely that he would not have the final say.
The Kremlin has never confirmed that Vorontsova is Putin's daughter, and her father wanted to keep her out of the spotlight.
If the project continues, the biochemist will follow in the footsteps of deceptive Chinese scientist He Jiankui after announcing the birth of twin girls who are genetically resistant to HIV.
He was convicted by the Chinese government and has not been heard since.
Dr. He Jiankui came in the news earlier this year when he revealed that twins would have been born from embryos he had genetically modified with CRISPR
This image shows how, in theory, an embryo can be edited & # 39; using the powerful tool Crispr-Cas9 to protect people against HIV infection
The scientific community is waiting with bated breath, which Putin decides because it could open the locks for other scientists to conduct controversial experiments on DNA.
Rebrikiv himself has been bullish in recent interviews and says he is continuing the project, bored of waiting for officials to define the legal parameters.
HOW DOES CRISPR DNA PROCESSING WORK?
The CRISPR gene processing technique is increasingly used in health research because it can change the building blocks of the body.
At a basic level, CRISPR works as a process for cutting and pasting DNA.
Called technically CRISPR-Cas9, the process involves sending new DNA strands and enzymes to organisms to process their genes.
In humans, genes act as blueprints for many processes and traits in the body – they dictate everything from the color of your eyes and hair to whether or not you have cancer.
The components of CRISPR-Cas9 – the DNA sequence and the enzymes needed to implant it – are often sent into the body via a harmless virus, so scientists can determine where they are going.
Cas9 enzymes can then cut DNA strands, effectively disable a gene, or remove portions of DNA that need to be replaced by the CRISPR's. These are new parts that are submitted to change the gene and the effect of which is preprogrammed to produce.
But the process is controversial because it can be used to change babies & # 39; s in the womb – initially to treat diseases – but can lead to an increase in & # 39; designer baby & # 39; s & # 39; because doctors offer ways to change the DNA of embryos.
Source: Broad institute
He added: & # 39; It currently costs about a million rubles ($ 15,500) to genetically change an embryo – more than many cars & # 39; s – but prices will fall with greater use & # 39;
& # 39; I now see the billboard: & # 39; You choose: a Hyundai Solaris or a Super-Child? & # 39;
The Crispr technology works by essentially cutting and pasting parts of DNA to change the influence of a person's genetics on their bodies.
For example, for a person with a genetic condition, a corrected gene can be made in a laboratory and then surgically implanted into his body to attempt to cure a disease.
People are afraid that fiddling with the DNA of patients can have serious, long-lasting and even life-threatening effects and that it can be used to create & # 39; designerbaby & # 39; s & # 39; to create.
Mr Rebrikov said earlier that he hopes to perform his work in his laboratory at the Kulakov National Medical Research Center for Obstetrics, Gynecology and Perinatology in Moscow.
He said: & # 39; It's clear and understandable to ordinary people. Every new baby for this couple would be deaf without editing gene mutations. & # 39;
Although he is not sure if it will work, he knows exactly which piece of DNA to target – position 35 of the GJB2 gene.
The gene error is fairly common in Western Siberia, the new scientist said, and if inherited from both parents, this leads to complete deafness from birth.
The couples are prepared and have no other option to prevent their children from hearing.
But scientists say that healthy children should not be the guinea pigs for CRISPR.
Crispr works by cutting DNA in a precise place, so that small parts of one gene can be removed and replaced by another gene made in a laboratory
Although they could not hear, the lives of the children would not be endangered by their condition and could lead a relatively normal life.
& # 39; The first human tests should start with embryos or infants who have nothing to lose, with fatal conditions, & # 39; Professor Julian Savulescu of the University of Oxford told the new scientist.
& # 39; You should not start with an embryo that leads a reasonably normal life. & # 39;
Chinese scientist He Jiankui revealed earlier this year that he had used Crispr to process embryos in a laboratory to try and protect them from inheriting HIV from their fathers, and twins were born as a result.
Scientists in China and the rest of the world condemned him and said it was irresponsible to experiment with embryos that would be used during pregnancy.
Transmission of HIV from the father is rare if the mother does not have the disease, and there are other, less dangerous ways to prevent it.
An international statement, published by science organizations in the US, UK, and China in November, said the risk & # 39; s currently & # 39; too large & # 39; are to use gene processing on embryos that will become living humans – germline processing.
They said that the case of Dr. He & # 39; unexpected and deeply disturbing & # 39; was & & # 39; did not meet ethical standards & & # 39 ;.
Rebrikov has admitted that he also wants to try similar work to protect children against inheriting the virus from their mother.
But the statement released in November said Crispr should only be used by living people if there are & # 39; no reasonable alternatives & # 39 ;.
A worldwide group of scientists also called for a ban on all germination in March of this year.
In a statement in the scientific journal Nature, researchers from the US, Canada and Germany said that Crispr & # 39; is not yet safe or effective enough to justify any use in the clinic & # 39 ;.
They added: & # 39; There is broad agreement in the scientific community that, for clinical germination, the risk of not making the desired change or introducing unintended mutations (off-target effects) is still unacceptably high. & # 39;
WHAT DOES CHINESE SCIENTIST DR JIANKUI DO?
Dr. He Jiankui came in the news earlier this year when he revealed that twins were born from embryos he had genetically modified with CRISPR.
Dr. He claimed that he had called in willing parents of couples in which the father had HIV and used CRISPR to process the DNA of embryos to prevent the children from inheriting the virus.
The now shamed scientist, working from a laboratory in China, had kept his work secret until it was finished and lost his job when the details became known. His residence is now unknown, but he is supposed to be under investigation with the Chinese authorities.
Dr. He had not even been employed as a biologist, but as a physicist.
Dr. He Jiankui lost his job as an academic in China and is reportedly investigated by the Chinese authorities after an experiment he claimed to have processed the DNA of unborn baby & # 39; s was described as & # 39; monstrous & # 39 ;
Members of the public and the scientific community united in condemning Dr. He research, said he demonstrated a lack of morality and a reckless approach to ethical considerations when working with human embryos.
& # 39; If true, this experiment is monstrous & # 39 ;, said University of Oxford professor Julian Savulescu.
& # 39; These healthy babies are used as genetic guinea pigs. This is genetic Russian roulette. & # 39;
Part of the outrage at Dr. He's work, in addition to the use of an unproven and untested scientific technique in living people, was that it was not necessary.
It is rare for a child to inherit HIV from his father if the mother does not have it, and antiviral treatment can prevent people from passing on the virus.
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