Chinese Scientist Imprisoned for using Crispr

He Jiankui, the researcher responsible for creating the world’s first gene-edited babies, had been [sentenced to three years in prison on the charge of illegally practising medicine.

Who is going to perform Crispr on the PFS community when the Chinese are locking up their own people for practising this medicine.

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This is something completely different


Yeh I agree testing it out in babies is fucked up. People with diseases who would rather die, 100%. It is completely different.


This is the crux of ethical considerations involving genetic engineering. Let’s say a couple with a 25% chance of conceiving a child with a debilitating medical condition sought the help of a researcher like He Jiankui to eliminate that risk… Is that unethical experimentation, or preventative medicine? Should that even be considered in the same level as “medicine” or a “medical procedure”?

Is this more evil than messy pharmaceutical chemicals with hidden side effects that would be used to treat the child that may otherwise be born with that medical condition, which could be prevented with gene editing?

The cases born with existing conditions appear to be given more points in the ethics game than “designer babies” currently.

In our cases, if our condition can be proven to exist, so we could seek “compassionate use” of clinically unproven new genetic/epigenetic technologies, those treating us should be in the clear ethically.


Dumb comment alert :grinning: Sorry not wanting to disagree with anyone but in my limited knowledge of Crispr I thought it was easier to test this on a baby in the womb compared to a human being with more active genes.

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You’re right except for implying that genes are necessarily more active in an adult.

Gene editing is often performed in the zygote or few-cell embryo stages because of the ease, reliability, and ability of those cells to withstand the procedures used for injection or uptake. But, this alters the germline of the organism, where offspring of successive generations will inherit the genetic alteration.

Gene editing in organisms comprised of trillions of cells and fortified extracellular space is far more difficult and the methods of injection, electroporation, and treatment with chemicals like ethylene glycol (antifreeze), aren’t practical.

Instead, viruses stripped of their ability to use host cells to replicate and stripped of their antigenic (immune-system stimulating) properties, or nanoparticles with an attached payload, are utilized for delivering whole-organism genome editing systems to many cells. He Jiankui probably used one of these options to edit the genome of a 14-week old embryo, but the article doesn’t go into any detail.

There are at least 3 categories of ethical quandary involved with human genome editing.

  1. Is it okay to alter the human germline (unnaturally-induced heritable changes)?

  2. Is it okay to attempt to improve the human genome? (What exactly is considered an improvement?) Increased intelligence, athleticism, disease resistance, attractiveness. Some of these are subjective and may cause unintended harm.

  3. Is it okay to use genome editing to cure ill health? If so, what is to be considered “ill health” worthy of this type of treatment, and what isn’t?

We would most likely fall into the third category and I have no doubt that once the tech is reliable, there will be amendments in laws to allow medical treatment and professions dedicated to it. Also in our favor is the likelihood of this being an epigentic condition that could be treated with epigenetic applications of CRISPR and similar technologies, avoiding some of the considerations given to changing the underlying genetic sequence.


Thanks for taking the time to reply. I hope your right.