Claims of genetically altered babies must be treated with caution

Analysis: A Chinese team say they have produced the world’s first gene-edited babies, but with evidence thin on the ground Josh Gabbatiss says we should remain sceptical about such announcements

Monday 26 November 2018 18:53
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How far should we go to create ‘healthy’ babies?
How far should we go to create ‘healthy’ babies?

Early on Monday morning, reports began circulating of a major breakthrough in China. Thanks to the marvels of gene editing, twin girls had apparently been born with a fantastic superpower: they were naturally resistant to HIV.

Depending on your position this result may sound either hugely exciting or downright terrifying. Gene editing (and “designer babies”) is a fascinating frontier in scientific research, but one with unpleasant echoes of the horrors of eugenics and the dystopian vision of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

However, despite the earnest interviews in which Professor He Jiankui and his collaborators described their work, for now their claims must be taken with a big fistful of salt.

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