December 5, 2018

"There is no way to tell whether He’s work did any good."

#11 on a list of "the 15 most damning details" in "The CRISPR Baby Scandal Gets Worse by the Day/The alleged creation of the world's first gene-edited infants was full of technical errors and ethical blunders" (The Atlantic).

That "damning detail" caught my eye because it looked like grossly poor copyediting by The Atlantic, but the man's name is He — He Jiankui.

24 comments:

Annie C said...

That headline hurt my inner grammar-nazi. I usually have a boot on the nazi's neck, but "He's" got him wriggling out.

It was correct though. Another crisis averted.

Darrell said...

It was nice of the Atlantic to hire the GMO baby as an editor.

Darrell said...

She's leaving home, bye-bye.

I never suspected a Chinese woman being named. This changes everything.

WK said...

I thought it was some type of gender pronoun in the title.

rhhardin said...

He's playing God.

Virgil Hilts said...

Spoken, CRISPR refers to those little coated sleeves that one uses to heat hot pockets in Microwave. They need change the Acronymn.

MikeR said...

Seems to miss the point. We do a lot of medical intervention to help people with serious problems. Intervening before they are born, to save them from potential serious problems - that sounds like a great thing.
We do it already - Ashkenazi Jews get tested for Tay Sachs before they make babies, for instance. This would be better - they could get married anyhow and not have kids with Tay Sachs.
There are a whole lot of issues with it, of course. Maybe such huge issues that they are deal-breakers.
But if you decide that on some level or another you want to go ahead with this anyhow, then you have a new set of issues: How do you get to where you want to be? There is no way to get there except by experimenting and trying it. The result is going to be babies who are failures, and you have to deal with that.
Reminds me a little of the fuss about animal experimentation. No one wants to try out dangerous untested procedures on animals. But if you think about it you realize that the only two alternatives are (a) never find new procedures that can help people, or (b) try those new procedures on actual people before they have ever been tested at all.

Oso Negro said...

Chinese genetic tampering will create a society of 70% beta males, all socially compliant and docile as sheep. A happy future!

tim maguire said...

Ethical blunders? In China?!

No way!!!

tim maguire said...

MikeR, what makes this different is the changes will be passed on. They have entered the gene pool. That's new. And our understanding of DNA is far too rudimentary to start mucking about in the human genome like that.

mockturtle said...

In an interview with Science, George Church, a respected figure from Harvard and a CRISPR pioneer, said that he felt “an obligation to be balanced about” the He affair. Church suggested that the man was being bullied and that the “most serious thing” about his experiment was “that he didn’t do the paperwork right.”

Even Dr. Frankenstein had his sympathetic colleagues.

mockturtle said...

Tim Maguire observes: MikeR, what makes this different is the changes will be passed on. They have entered the gene pool. That's new. And our understanding of DNA is far too rudimentary to start mucking about in the human genome like that.

Exactly. This is 'monstrous' in the literal sense.

Henry said...

Capital H He would be God. I have to admit, there's days I wonder if His work did any good. Particularly the monkey evolution part.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

No one wants to try out dangerous untested procedures on animals.

My neighborhood's cat population could not be reached for comment.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

MikeR said...

But if you think about it you realize that the only two alternatives are (a) never find new procedures that can help people, or (b) try those new procedures on actual people before they have ever been tested at all.

I think ever been tested at all is a significant overstatement. Such things can be tested on animals, starting with lab rats and progressing to primates, breeding over multiple generations to see if anything happens down the line. At the same time, we can be polishing our techniques on human stem cells from umbilical cords or other sources, then growing those stem cells into whatever types of cells would have been effected by the genetic defect we are trying to fix.

I'm not saying this will prevent all potential problems, nor where the risk/benefit balance falls. But it is wrong to say that in order to progress we have to do this on humans without ever having tested it at all.

Bob Boyd said...

I wonder if the Chinese government will sterilize the women.
They'll do that ya know.

n.n said...

In the East, they edit. In the West, they Plan. The latter practice clearly leaves a cleaner, greener lawn.

PM said...

CRI$$$$PR will not be stopped.

n.n said...

Genetic castration is a human-rights approved method to reduce toxic masculinity and Plan the handmaid's "burden."

Jay Elink said...

"Even Dr. Frankenstein had his sympathetic colleagues."
*********************

I eagerly await to see, years from now, one of those babies dance and sing to

"Puttin' on the Riiiiiittttzzz."

Earnest Prole said...

In the beginning was He’s word.

FullMoon said...

Virgil Hilts said... [hush]​[hide comment]

Spoken, CRISPR refers to those little coated sleeves that one uses to heat hot pockets in Microwave. They need change the Acronymn.
12/5/18, 6:54 AM


Yep, brings to mind the 'Mom puts baby in the oven' news stories.

Scott M said...

Max Brooks TOLD us the zombie apocalypse would start in China.

R.J. Chatt said...

He mislead the parents about the nature of the work. And He didn't consider how the parents would feel about this. That tells me everything I need to know about He/him/it.