January 18, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

designer babies

3 min read

Something called, “The International Commission on the Clinical Use of Human Germline Genome Editing” has issued a new report on heritable human genome editing (HHGE). The Commission was convened by the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the U.K.’s Royal Society. This post is my initial take on the summary of the lengthy report. I hope to have time to read the full report in coming weeks and it’s possible some new perspectives may emerge. Here is my thinking as …Read More

7 min read

Making a CRISPR baby is a controversial idea to even propose now for many reasons, yet even after He Jiankui’s train wreck some people have seemed eager to try it including apparently a scientist whose name perhaps many readers here are not so familiar with in this context: Professor Hui Yang. ‘CRISPR baby guys’ Is it really a good time to be pushing CRISPR babies? The original “CRISPR baby guy” He Jiankui was recently sentenced to three years in prison for a variety of actions …Read More

2 min read

Here in the U.S. we just had our big Thanksgiving holiday, but science goes, stem cells keep growing and needing attention, and it’s another weekend chance to catch up on our paper reading. Here’s this weekend edition of recommended reads including news items and pubs. From Cell Stem Cell: Single-Cell Transcriptome Analysis of Uniparental Embryos Reveals Parent-of-Origin Effects on Human Preimplantation Development. and another there on stem cell machinery in cancer: Humanized Stem Cell Models of Pediatric Medulloblastoma Reveal an Oct4/mTOR Axis that Promotes Malignancy. …Read More

6 min read

By Guillaume Levrier Human germline editing has been done before. It will be done again in the future, as it is relatively easy to perform. No mechanism with the de facto ability to prevent it from being organized has yet been designed, let alone implemented. But the fact that germline editing has, can, and will happen again does not deprive anyone of their right to have an opinion on this capacity. The CRISPR Consensus symposium (see video below) set up at the Innovative Genomics Institutes …Read More

4 min read

A Russian Scientist named Denis Rebrikov told Nature and then other media including NPR last week that he plans to make CRISPR babies. In other words, babies with heritable genetic modifications. I don’t doubt that Rebrikov (pictured in ResearchGate image) might want to do this nor that he might try it, but rather I’m writing this post to point out how his statements including about why it’d supposedly be a good idea don’t withstand much scrutiny. What has Rebrikov said about his plan and …Read More

5 min read

Two prominent scientists, Robin Lovell-Badge and George Daley, have been amongst the most outspoken proponents of leaving the door open to heritable human genetic modification via CRISPR. While they each have articulated their reasons in somewhat different ways at times, their core reasons arguing in favor of future heritable CRISPR appear largely the same. In this post I tackle each of these arguments in favor of leaving the door open to “CRISPR babies” with science-based counterarguments. I also raise larger risks to going down …Read More

4 min read

Three national academy leaders have a new opinion piece in Science on what the community needs to do next regarding human germline editing now that we are most likely in the CRISPR babies era. Some of us have been wondering what the Academies and their empowered experts really think about this issue and what they are saying outside the public domain. Do some of them disagree with each other? There have been mixed messages. The new piece, entitled, Wake-up call from Hong Kong, gets a …Read More

4 min read

Could He Jiankui have faked part or all of his CRISPR babies story? If so, how? Why? Or to put it another way, almost everyone seems to be assuming the story is real, but should we be more skeptical? Should we flip things around and assume the story isn’t entirely kosher until proven otherwise? I once said that the CRISPR field feels like it moves in dog years (very fast!) Consistent with that warp speed, the last 2 weeks have felt more like months. In …Read More

5 min read

When I was a little kid I played this game called “connect the dots” or “dot-to-dot”, where you draw a line from dot-to-dot in numerical order and at some point a picture starts to emerge. I think kids and even some adults still play this today. They even come in extreme versions with hundreds or thousands of dots now (see image of books). I always tried to guess what the picture would be as soon as possible and sometimes even before starting to draw …Read More

4 min read

Reports are out that a scientist in China has been working to make a CRISPR baby for some time and supposedly has made twin genetically modified babies. I see this work as unethical and dangerous. Just a couple years ago when I published my book GMO Sapiens on potential use of CRISPR in a heritable manner in humans, some people said it would only happen decades down the road if at all due to technological issues. I was too worried, they said. Others said no …Read More