Genetically Modified Babies Resistant to HIV is Missing


Samantha Valdez , Opinion Editor

In the United States genetically modifying unborn babies is illegal. It is described as unethical and very dangerous. However, in Hong Kong, researcher He Jiankui reports to have genetically modified embryos that will be resistant to certain diseases for seven couples that were undergoing fertilization procedures. One of the couples recently gave birth to two babies, both girls, sometime this month.

This is the first time the procedure has been carried out successfully if Dr. Jiankui’s claims are true. China had performed modifications on embryo-genes back in 2015, the procedure was done in a lab dish. Researchers used a gene-editing tool called CRISPR. But now if claims are true, this will be the first time this procedure has been successfully completed.  The modified genes will also be passed on to the person’s descendants.

Dr. Jiankui’s objective was to modify the babies genes so they could be resistant to diseases such as HIV, smallpox, and cholera. American scientist Michael Deem also worked on the project and said, “I feel a strong responsibility that it’s not just to make a first, but also make it an example, society will decide what to do next.” Dr. Jiankui has received lots of criticism from other doctors, as well as support from colleagues. However the latest news is that Dr. Jiankui is missing and he has been since November 28 after speaking in Hong Kong at the International Summit on Human Genome Editing. People believe he has been taken into custody by the Chinese government based on his controversial work.