Why we were caught unawares and what we should be doing about this
The first CRISPRed babies have been born in China, and from all the noise of the past few days my takeaway is that this inevitable development has caught us all shamefully unprepared.
The story began Sunday evening with an article in the MIT Tech Review describing experiments by a scientist in China, Dr. He Jiankui, to make HIV-resistant human embryos by editing the CCR5 gene. Subsequently, rumors spread on Twitter that the embryos had actually been taken to term, confirmed by an AP story stating that a pair of twins (Lulu and Nana) had been born from the CCR5-editing experiment. At about the same time, a series of videos was posted on Youtube by the scientist in question, echoing the story and providing a justification for the choice of CCR5 as a target.
What we now need is a path forward: a set of concrete steps that the international scientific community should take so as to redeem the promise of human genome editing from the debacle of Jiankui’s experiments.