Controversial research

HIV and gene editing: beware of the butterfly effect, cautions expert

The claim of a chinese professor has caused quite a controversy: He Jiankui announced that he successfully modified human DNA to prevent two girls from contracting HIV.

Upon the leak of this research, ethicists and scientists alike condemned Jiankui's gene editing in humans. West Virginia University Vice President and Executive Dean for Health Sciences Dr. Clay Marsh says that although “a lot of good promise” could come from gene editing, it is mostly practiced in lab models, not in people. He notes the human body is complicated and everything is so interconnected that changing one thing can lead to a cascade of changing everything.

“If a person is born with a particular gene that makes them at risk for breast cancer or ovarian cancer or other diseases, scientists may be able to identify that susceptibility and get rid of it. The big concern, though, is the butterfly effect – little changes can lead to big outcome differences – and this is editing the basic blueprint of our DNA. This might lead to other editing effects such as deleting certain genes that protect you from cancer or cut out a gene set that might reduce your resistance to infection.”

Recommended article


Source: West Virginia University

30.11.2018

Read all latest stories

Related articles

Photo

Cellular recycling

Can autophagy stop cancer before it starts?

Just as plastic tips protect the ends of shoelaces and keep them from fraying when we tie them, molecular tips called telomeres protect the ends of chromosomes and keep them from fusing when cells…

Photo

In future pregnancies

Identifying the risk of recurrence of developmental disorder

Having a child with a developmental disorder can cause parents to worry about the outcome of further pregnancies. In cases where the genetic mutation causing the disorder is not present in either…

Photo

Gene-editing

CRISPR baby mutation significantly increases mortality

A genetic mutation that a Chinese scientist attempted to create in twin babies born last year, ostensibly to help them fend off HIV infection, is also associated with a 21% increase in mortality in…

Related products

Eppendorf - Mastercycler nexus X2

Research use only (RUO)

Eppendorf - Mastercycler nexus X2

Eppendorf AG
Agena Bioscience - MassARRAY Colon Panel

Amplification/Detection

Agena Bioscience - MassARRAY Colon Panel

Agena Bioscience GmbH
Eppendorf - BioSpectrometer fluroescence

Research use only (RUO)

Eppendorf - BioSpectrometer fluroescence

Eppendorf AG
Eppendorf - μCuvette G1.0

Research use only (RUO)

Eppendorf - μCuvette G1.0

Eppendorf AG
Orion Diagnostica Oy - Orion GenRead

Amplification

Orion Diagnostica Oy - Orion GenRead

Orion Diagnostics Oy