New Science: CRISPR gene editing

New Science: CRISPR gene editing

By Alejandra Ibarra Posted January 14, 2019

There have been thousands of new scientific discoveries since the beginning of the 21st century and they are getting more and more complex as time passes.

Genetics is a rising science field of interest, as it is not completely understood yet. There have been multiple discoveries in genetics such as the first animal clone in 1973 and where the first discovery of M. tuberculosis bacterium in 1998, but there have been many more genetic discoveries since those years.

CRISPR technology, for example, is a powerful tool that researchers use to alter DNA sequences and modify gene sequencing. In other words, they can manipulate the genes of an organism. “‘CRISPR’ stands for ‘clusters of regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats’. It is a specialized region of DNA with two distinct characteristics: the presence of nucleotide repeats and spacers.” (

Recently, this technology has been used to go to the extreme of its capabilities when a Chinese researcher, He Jiankui, claimed to use CRISPR to alter a gene in embryos before having them implanted into the mother’s womb, with the intention of the babies being immune to the H.I.V. infection. A gene called CCR5 is responsible for what seems to be a problem in China; the H.I.V.

As many people know, the alteration of genes of embryos is illegal in the United States and many other countries, but it is not illegal to do in China. Even though it is not, it is still being called “a huge blow to the global reputation and development of Chinese science” according to a statement released by a group of 122 Chinese scientists.

According to Dr. Musunuru from the University of Pennsylvania, the developing placenta of one of the embryos ended up with a mosaic patchwork of cells, which is not a good sign.

Many scientists and society, in general, are concerned that Dr. He’s experiment will have a negative effect on the support for future legitimate gene-editing research.

Dr. He Jiankui may be facing the death penalty in China for bribery and corruption.