UPDATE TO ARTICLE POSTED ON MAY 30TH, 2019:
(See original article at the bottom)
Last week, we reported an update on Chinese scientist He Jiankui and his experiment that created the world’s first gene-edited babies in which he altered embryos to be HIV resistant by mimicking a mutation found in the CCR5 gene. Twin, genetically modified girls were born last year. And, there are rumors of a second pregnancy of another HIV resistant baby.
The Wall Street Journal reported this week that “the genetic mutation thought to make people resistant to the virus that causes AIDS could also shorten their lives.” Dr. Rasmus Nielson—a University of California, Berkeley, biologist—co-authored a study published in a scientific journal run by Nature. Dr. Nielson’s analysis found that “people who had a mutation called delta 32 in both copies of their CCR5 genes—the genes that form a pathway for HIV to enter the body—were 21% less likely on average to live to the age of 76 than those who had the delta 32 mutation in one copy of the gene or those who didn’t carry it. The higher death rate translated to a nearly two-year reduction in lifespan.”
When we take on the role of God, manipulating and mutilating His perfect design, there are bound to be repercussions. Continue to pray for those innocents facing unintended consequences. And pray for those attempting to play God to reverse their path and use their knowledge appropriately.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE POSTED ON MAY 30TH, 2019:
In a follow-up to an article we brought to you earlier this year, the debate continues to rage around a Chinese scientist who changed the DNA of twin girls. There has been no report as to how the twins are doing, but their existence has been confirmed by investigators in the Guangdong province.
Initially the scientist, He Jiankui of the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China told the Associated Press that he used a powerful gene editing tool to alter the DNA of the girls in utero by giving their embryos the ability to resist possible future HIV infection. The ability to resist HIV infection has been shown to be a rare genetic trait that some humans actually do possess.
He has been condemned for his role in making the world’s first gene-edited babies and has stayed out of public view since coming forward in 2018 with his work. But, according to the Associated Press, there is rumor of a second pregnancy of a gene-edited embryo, now thought to be in the seventh month.
While a bioethics commission in Great Britain determined it is legally and morally permissible to change the DNA structure of a human embryo, genetic manipulation is banned in the United States. However, according to Stanford University bioethicist and advisor to He, Dr. William Hurlbut has said that He reported that several scientists across the globe have reached out to him on behalf of families with inherited health problems with interest in altering the genes of embryos to prevent or treat disease.
Hurlbut presented a copy of an email sent to He from a fertility clinic in the United Arab Emirates in Dubai. “It reveals what eagerness there is out there to use this technology” and the need “for some sort of enforceable governance” of it, Hurlbut told the Associated Press. Many mainstream scientists are concerned that the procedure will be used to rewrite the DNA blueprint of future babies, giving them certain desired traits or removing undesired traits, thus creating what some have called “designer babies.”
The World Health Organization has formed a panel on developing global standards for oversight of any future attempts to edit eggs, sperm or embryos. However, these efforts are moving extremely slow. In the meantime, there are too many possibilities for unintended consequences. It should be a foregone conclusion that we should not attempt to edit the genetic make-up of humans!
Relevant Scripture Passages
When we consider that Genesis 1:26-28; 2:7 teaches God created the very first human life and Psalm 139:13-16 indicates God Himself forms every human life in the womb; and that Jeremiah 1:5 reveals God knows every individual before He forms them in the womb, the efforts of He Jiankui’s manipulation of the DNA of human embryos clearly supersedes the role of God!