Aug 17, 2019 | Updated: 07:24 AM EDT

Chinese twins had their genes modified to improve cognitive functions and be HIV-resistant

Feb 23, 2019 08:57 AM EST

2 Babies Wearing White Headdress White Holding White Plush Toys
(Photo : Pixabay)
(Photo : By David Goodsell - RCSB PDB Molecule of the Month, CC BY 3.0)

Chinese twin girls had their genes modified by the team of scientists from Southern University of Science and Technology last year through CRISPR. CRISPR is a DNA sequence in some microorganisms that can splice genetic code. This editing has only been applied in different organisms, until now.

He Jiankui, the lead researcher from the "said university", modified Lulu and Nana's genes. This became a heated concern in the world of research as tinkering with genes of humans is unethical. These Chinese researchers publicly reported that they only modified by deleting CCR5 as people born without this gene is HIV-resistant.

However, MIT Technology Review refutes this public claim by the Chinese team as the twins had their brains enhanced.

"The answer is likely yes, it did affect their brains," said Alcino J. Silva, a neurobiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

CCR5 gene's main function in the brains of humans is that suppresses the nerves that affect the ability of the brain to make new connections as well as the brain's memories. The memory and mental function of lab mice get a boost when CCR5 is deleted.

Wide sentiments of ethical watchdogs show that He and his team might have the pre-knowledge when they modified the genes of Lulu and Nana. Scientists all over the world hypothesize that it might be that He's main goal was to enhance the cognitive function of the twins.

Watch the video below, He Jianjui published announcing the gene surgery:

Related Article: Experts Call for a Ban on Genetic Editing
   Recent Genetic Modification Mishap Calls for Moratorium on the Procedure

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