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A Chinese scientist claims to have created the world's first genetically edited babies: Twin girls who are resistant to HIV. The results of He Jiankui’s experiment have yet to be independently verified, but have nonetheless sparked condemnation in the scientific community and conversations about how a powerful gene editing tool known as CRISPR should be used.
He's gene editing was carried out in secret and ignored international norms for embryonic experiments. His announcement at a global gene editing conference in Hong Kong last week shocked scientists, including Nobel Prize-winning biologist David Baltimore, who called He's scientific claim a "failure of self-regulation by the scientific community".
CRISPR gene editing is considered controversial because edits made to the genome could be passed on to future generations. Scientists are currently exploring ways to use gene editing to prevent incurable hereditary diseases such as Alzheimer's and ALS.
What else could gene editing achieve and what are the ethical and safety issues that need to be considered before it is applied in more humans?
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