David Ishee is a Mississippi kennel operator with a passion for dogs and a plan to improve them using a gene-editing technology called CRISPR from a modest laboratory he's built in a plywood shed. It's serious enough that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in a phone call last week, told Ishee he wouldn't be able to sell any edited dogs without their approval. Ishee, a member of what's called the "biohacker" movement, says he is hoping to use inexpensive new gene-editing techniques to modify the genes of Dalmatians. By repairing a single DNA letter in their genomes, Ishee believes, he can rid them of an inherited disease, hyper uricemia, almost as closely associated with the breed as their white coats and black spots. In early January, Ishee sent the agency a sketch of his plans to fix Dalmatians expecting to be told no approval was needed.
Scientists say they are'very sure' that Dr He Jiankui, the doctor who claims to have created the first gene-edited babies, was successful in his heinous endeavour. The Chinese researcher garnered worldwide condemnation when he revealed the birth of twin girls who had their DNA altered to make them resistant to HIV. Dr Jiankui claims he used the powerful gene editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 to alter the genetic code of the babies, known as LuLu and Nana. Dr Helen O'Neill of the University College London was present when the controversial scientists gave a speech on his widely criticised research. The esteemed lecturer in reproductive and molecular genetics said the beleaguered Chinese researcher'gave quite an impressive presentation on quite extensive and thorough research'.
The first known attempt at creating genetically modified human embryos in the United States has been carried out by a team of researchers in Portland, Oregon, MIT Technology Review has learned. The effort, led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health and Science University, involved changing the DNA of a large number of one-cell embryos with the gene-editing technique CRISPR, according to people familiar with the scientific results. Until now, American scientists have watched with a combination of awe, envy, and some alarm as scientists elsewhere were first to explore the controversial practice. To date, three previous reports of editing human embryos were all published by scientists in China. Now Mitalipov is believed to have broken new ground both in the number of embryos experimented upon and by demonstrating that it is possible to safely and efficiently correct defective genes that cause inherited diseases.
Josiah Zayner, 36, recently made headlines by becoming the first person to use the revolutionary gene-editing tool Crispr to try to change their own genes. Part way through a talk on genetic engineering, Zayner pulled out a syringe apparently containing DNA and other chemicals designed to trigger a genetic change in his cells associated with dramatically increased muscle mass. He injected the DIY gene therapy into his left arm, live-streaming the procedure on the internet. The former Nasa biochemist, based in California, has become a leading figure in the growing "biohacker" movement, which involves loose collectives of scientists, engineers, artists, designers, and activists experimenting with biotechnology outside of conventional institutions and laboratories. Despite warnings from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that selling gene therapy products without regulatory approval is illegal, Zayner sells kits that allow anyone to get started with basic genetic engineering techniques, and has published a free guide for others who want to take it further and experiment on themselves.
Rice University announced it has launched a formal investigation into a physics and bioengineering professor who assisted a Chinese scientist in creating what is believed to be the world's first genetically-modified humans. Dr Michael Deem worked in a lab in China with Dr He Jiankui (HEH JEE'-an-qway), who studied at Rice and Stanford before he returned to his homeland. Deem was his adviser at Rice in Houston. 'Regardless of where it was conducted, this work as described in press reports, violates scientific conduct guidelines and is inconsistent with ethical norms of the scientific community and Rice University,' the university said in the statement announcing the probe. 'We have begun a full investigation of Dr. Deem's involvement in this research.'