Participants of the second International Summit of Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong last month expected insightful discussions about the latest techniques and ethics of genome editing in the human embryo. However, one day before the conference started, big news arrived that shook the world of scientific research.
One of the invited speakers, He Jiankui from the University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, claimed that he had successfully performed genome editing in a human embryo that resulted in newborn twins named Lulu and Nana. If the professor’s claim was true, this is the first time that human babies were born after their genome was specifically engineered.
He utilized a technique called CRISPR-Cas9 that was only discovered in 2012. This technique has enabled researchers to edit specific genes within the human genome at will.
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