The Chinese have created human embryos invulnerable to HIV

Feb 24, 2020

Chinese scientists have conducted a successful experiment in genetic modification of human embryos for the creation of an innate resistance to HIV infection

A team of scientists led by Fang Yong (Yong Fan) of Guangzhou Medical University conducted an experiment on the interference in the DNA of human embryos. Scientists have created embryos that have a mutation CCR5Δ32, protecting against HIV infection. Before clinical application of these technologies for several decades, but today it is clear that the future of medicine is capable of much.

Chinese scientists have collected fertilized human eggs which were unsuitable for in vitro fertilization, as contained extra set of chromosomes. These embryos in any case would have to be destroyed and after the experiment had been destroyed after 14 days.

Scientists have easily changed the DNA of embryos using the CRISPR-cas9 tool. The task was to create an artificial mutation in CCR5 gene. This mutation called CCR5Δ32 is very rare and occurs only a few people. CCR5Δ32 prevents the penetration of HIV infection in immune T cells. Man with a mutation CCR5Δ32 can not become infected with HIV, that is, it has an innate protection. If you create a similar genetic modification in the embryo, then, theoretically, from this embryo to grow a person who is immune to HIV.

The effectiveness of such manipulation is low: of the 26 embryos were successfully modified only 4, besides not all chromosomes contained CCR5Δ32 mutations. But, theoretically, even this is enough to select the most suitable embryos for in vitro fertilization, but as long as the bearing of genetically modified children is prohibited. Even the authors of the study point out that such experiments are put on people is still too early. First you need to overcome all the ethical and scientific barriers.

Certainly, scientific barriers fall first - gene editing technology is developing very quickly. Since ethics is more difficult: a lot of people are willing to prohibit interference with the human DNA, even if it could save millions of people. But these ethical barriers are rapidly destroyed. Genetic modification - the next stage of human evolution. For the first time humanity can alone address the shortcomings that we have inherited from nature.

First of all, the potential of gene therapy can remove all congenital diseases, to ensure the overall health, put insurmountable barriers for a variety of infectious diseases, including HIV, hepatitis, herpes, influenza, possibly even cancer. This is similar to vaccination, but it persists in the offspring. Perfect people "v2.0" through many generations do not even remember about modern diseases, just like we forgot about the plague, which was only in history books. No talk about the inadmissibility of interference in the human genome can not stop it - people will never give up such prospects. Modification of human DNA will start immediately after as soon as the appropriate technology reliable.