Gene editing infants may be at risk of early death.
In Novemver 2018, Chinese scientist HE Jiankui announced the birth of two babies born with heritable alters to their embryo genomes with the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology. HE said he knocked out the CCR5 gene in the babies’ genome to lower the risk of HIV infection.
Researchers from the UC Berkeley analyzed 409,693 samples of genomic data and their health information from the UK Biobank, a volunteer DNA archive.
The research results showed that for individuals homozygous for CCR5-Δ32 allele, all-cause mortality will be increased by 21%. The significant deviation from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium also supports the harmful effect of CCR5-Δ32 mutation. The research results were recently published in Nature Medicine.
“The difference is as big as modifying the entire operating system of a computer, as opposed to modifying one single [piece of] software installed for a particular task.”
XINZHU WEI, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY.
The author, Berkeley postdoctoral researcher Xinzhu Wei says that the protein coded by CCR5 is one of the proteins with important functions in human body, the mutations destroy the function of this protein may be harmful to human body. The authors believe that, except for the ethical problem of editing infants with CRISPR gene, they are not clear about the impact of the newly introduced mutation on human body, and the introduction of the mutation of CCR5 gene may be dangerous. The two gene editing babies therefore have greater risk of dying before the age of 76 than those people who don’t have this trait.
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