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Leading Scientists Call for a Moratorium on Specific Types of CRISPR Editing

March 14, 2019 / Mark Terry

In the wake of the scandal caused by a Chinese researcher’s use of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing to alter the DNA of embryos for seven couples, leading scientists called for a moratorium on heritable genome editing. In November 2018, He Jiankui, a researcher in Shenzhen, China, announced that he had used CRISPR to disable a gene called CCR5 in the embryos of seven couples. All the men in the seven couples had controlled HIV, but the women did not. The gene editing’s goal wasn’t to prevent transmission of HIV, but, He claimed, to give the children protection. A set of twins were born and at least one other woman is pregnant. The announcement was met by worldwide condemnation. He appears to be under house arrest, or otherwise remains out of the public eye, and investigations are ongoing by the Chinese government. Additional investigations by Rice University and the National Institute of Health were initiated in the U.S. into the role of Michael Deem, a professor at Rice Univ...