Human Genome Editing and the fight against Genetic Diseases

Human Genome Editing and the fight against Genetic Diseases

Human Genome Editing and the fight against Genetic Diseases

20 Feb 2019

A blog on what Human Genome Editing is, the fight against Genetic Diseases and the infamous Dr He Jiankui experiment. | Servca

At the end of 2018 Scientists all over the world were in outcry over a very serious and ethical subject: Human Gene-Editing.In November 2018 Dr He Jiankui, a Chinese biophysics researcher, announced he had conducted the first genome-editing experiment on an embryo and had successfully implanted into the embryo into the mother and brought into term. This experiment was conducted without public discussion and without ethical assessment. Dr Jiankui’s aim was to create a mutation within a specific gene. This gene creates a protein which allows HIV to enter the cell. The aim was to protect the children from HIV infection. This has re-sparked the timeless scientific debate of the modern world: Could medical science soon eradicate genetic diseases entirely?

So what is a Genome?

A genome is a very important genetic material in our DNA. When we reproduce, the DNA’s double helix splits into two, passing one half of each parent’s DNA onto the child. This can pass on any faulty genes or mutations that run through that DNA. The smallest genetic error can be the cause of a serious disease. These genomes can be edited using special technology that cuts or replaces specific strands of DNA. This technology is called CRISPR.Scientists hope eventually they will be able to edit the strands of human DNA which cause currently un-treatable genetic disorders, including Huntington's disease and cystic fibrosis. The first human trials are already underway in China and have been approved in the US – injecting patients with modified cells, rather than editing cells inside the patients, unlike Dr He Jiankui’s clinical experiment on DNA.

The Experiment

The gene he was attempting to mutate was called CCR5 and is in fact a gene that few people actually carry. In fact, there are various strains of HIV that use other methods to enter the body than through the protein created by the gene CCR5. This means that despite the gene mutation of CCR5, there is no guaranteed protection from the varying forms of HIV. The twin girls were born in late October and appeared to be two healthy new-borns. However, this has raised concerns about long-term side effects from genome-editing. There has not been enough evidence, or experimentation, to confirm wherever or not side effects of birth-defects created by the genome editing may form later in life.This experiment has created arguments for and against the ethics behind genome-editing, and as to wherever or not it can make a medical difference. Many have condemned and criticised Jiankui’s conduct; however there have been many voices sparking the question as to wherever the CRISPR technology used to conduct the experiment may help eradicate genetic diseases. The Future of Human Gene-EditingIn response some bioethicists and scientists called for a global moratorium, prohibiting the use of CRISPR in DNA human embryo editing. However there were various arguments against this saying that it would heavily impact important research on genome editing. As a response The World Health Organisation has established an international committee. Their aim will be to establish uniform guidelines for editing human DNA in various ways, setting up ethical boundaries that will shape the future of human genome-editing.

At the end of 2018 Scientists all over the world were in outcry over a very serious and ethical subject: Human Gene-Editing.In November 2018 Dr He Jiankui, a Chinese biophysics researcher, announced he had conducted the first genome-editing experiment on an embryo and had successfully implanted into the embryo into the mother and brought into term. This experiment was conducted without public discussion and without ethical assessment. Dr Jiankui’s aim was to create a mutation within a specific gene. This gene creates a protein which allows HIV to enter the cell. The aim was to protect the children from HIV infection. This has re-sparked the timeless scientific debate of the modern world: Could medical science soon eradicate genetic diseases entirely?

So what is a Genome?

A genome is a very important genetic material in our DNA. When we reproduce, the DNA’s double helix splits into two, passing one half of each parent’s DNA onto the child. This can pass on any faulty genes or mutations that run through that DNA. The smallest genetic error can be the cause of a serious disease. These genomes can be edited using special technology that cuts or replaces specific strands of DNA. This technology is called CRISPR.Scientists hope eventually they will be able to edit the strands of human DNA which cause currently un-treatable genetic disorders, including Huntington's disease and cystic fibrosis. The first human trials are already underway in China and have been approved in the US – injecting patients with modified cells, rather than editing cells inside the patients, unlike Dr He Jiankui’s clinical experiment on DNA.

The Experiment

The gene he was attempting to mutate was called CCR5 and is in fact a gene that few people actually carry. In fact, there are various strains of HIV that use other methods to enter the body than through the protein created by the gene CCR5. This means that despite the gene mutation of CCR5, there is no guaranteed protection from the varying forms of HIV. The twin girls were born in late October and appeared to be two healthy new-borns. However, this has raised concerns about long-term side effects from genome-editing. There has not been enough evidence, or experimentation, to confirm wherever or not side effects of birth-defects created by the genome editing may form later in life.This experiment has created arguments for and against the ethics behind genome-editing, and as to wherever or not it can make a medical difference. Many have condemned and criticised Jiankui’s conduct; however there have been many voices sparking the question as to wherever the CRISPR technology used to conduct the experiment may help eradicate genetic diseases. The Future of Human Gene-EditingIn response some bioethicists and scientists called for a global moratorium, prohibiting the use of CRISPR in DNA human embryo editing. However there were various arguments against this saying that it would heavily impact important research on genome editing. As a response The World Health Organisation has established an international committee. Their aim will be to establish uniform guidelines for editing human DNA in various ways, setting up ethical boundaries that will shape the future of human genome-editing.

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Global Headquarters

Servca Group

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32-38 Dukes Place

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London, EC3A 7LP

United Kingdom


+44 (0) 207 2250000

info@servca.com


Broker at Lloyd’s SLM1389

European Office

Servca Europe

Dragonara Business Centre

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5th Floor

St Julian’s, STJ 3141

Republic of Malta


+356 (20) 341690

eu@servca.com


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Servca Canada Insurance Group Inc
40 King Street West
Suite 2100
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M5H 3C2
Canada


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Northern Ireland

Servca Northern Ireland
River House Belfast

48-60 High Street

Belfast

BT1 2BE



+44 (0) 2895582000

ni@servca.com


Broker at Lloyd’s SLM1389

© 2024 Servca


Servca Group Ltd is a private limited company registered in England and Wales; Registered Number: 7727494; Registered Office: Dukes House, 32-38 Dukes Place, 5th Floor, London, EC3A 7LP, United Kingdom. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Servca European Insurance Brokers Ltd (a private limited company incorporated in Malta and enrolled to act as an insurance broker); Tower Business Centre, Level 3, Tower Street, Swatar, BKR, 4013, Republic of Malta. UK branch office is registered in England and Wales, authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Servca Canada Insurance Group Inc, a private limited company incorporated at 40 King Street West, Suite 2100, Toronto, M5H 3C2, Canada. Servca group of companies are owned and operated by Servca Group Holdings Ltd, a private limited company registered in England & Wales.

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Global Headquarters

Servca Group

Dukes House

32-38 Dukes Place

5th Floor

London, EC3A 7LP

United Kingdom


+44 (0) 207 2250000

info@servca.com


Broker at Lloyd’s SLM1389

European Office

Servca Europe

Dragonara Business Centre

Dragonara Road

5th Floor

St Julian’s, STJ 3141

Republic of Malta


+356 (20) 341690

eu@servca.com


Broker at Lloyd’s (Brussels) SLM1883

Canadian Office

Servca Canada Insurance Group Inc
40 King Street West
Suite 2100
Toronto
M5H 3C2
Canada


+1 (647) 846 5555

canada@servca.com


Non-regulated servicing company

Northern Ireland

Servca Northern Ireland
River House Belfast

48-60 High Street

Belfast

BT1 2BE


+44 (0) 2895582000

ni@servca.com


Broker at Lloyd’s SLM1389

© 2024 Servca


Servca Group Ltd is a private limited company registered in England and Wales; Registered Number: 7727494; Registered Office: Dukes House, 32-38 Dukes Place, 5th Floor, London, EC3A 7LP, United Kingdom. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Servca European Insurance Brokers Ltd (a private limited company incorporated in Malta and enrolled to act as an insurance broker); Tower Business Centre, Level 3, Tower Street, Swatar, BKR, 4013, Republic of Malta. UK branch office is registered in England and Wales, authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Servca Canada Insurance Group Inc, a private limited company incorporated at 40 King Street West, Suite 2100, Toronto, M5H 3C2, Canada. Servca group of companies are owned and operated by Servca Group Holdings Ltd, a private limited company registered in England & Wales.

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