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To Ensure Transparency, WHO Panel Aims for Registry of All Human Gene-Editing Research

The WHO panel's statement said any human gene-editing work should be done for research only, should not be done in human clinical trials, and should be conducted transparently.

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According to 996.icu, the 72-hour work week schedule has long been practiced in “secret,” but recently more companies have been openly discussing the arrangement. VOA

It would be irresponsible for any scientist to conduct human gene-editing studies in people, and a central registry of research plans should be set up to ensure transparency, World Health Organization experts said Tuesday.

After its first two-day meeting in Geneva, the WHO panel of gene-editing experts — which was established in December after a Chinese scientist said he had edited the genes of twin babies — said it had agreed on a framework for setting future standards.

It said a central registry of all human genome-editing research was needed “in order to create an open and transparent database of ongoing work,” and asked the WHO to start setting up such a registry immediately.

“The committee will develop essential tools and guidance for all those working on this new technology to ensure maximum benefit and minimal risk to human health,” Soumya Swamanathan, the WHO’s chief scientist, said in a statement.

FILE - He Jiankui, left, and Zhou Xiaoqin work a computer at a laboratory in Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong province, Oct. 10, 2018. Chinese scientist He says he helped make the world's first genetically edited babies.
– He Jiankui, left, and Zhou Xiaoqin work a computer at a laboratory in Shenzhen in southern China’s Guangdong province, Oct. 10, 2018. Chinese scientist He says he helped make the world’s first genetically edited babies. VOA

A Chinese scientist last year claimed to have edited the genes of twin baby girls.

News of the births prompted global condemnation, in part because it raised the ethical specter of so-called “designer babies” — in which embryos can be genetically modified to produce children with desirable traits.

Top scientists and ethicists from seven countries called last week for a global moratorium on gene editing of human eggs, sperm or embryos that would result in such genetically-altered babies — saying this “could have permanent and possibly harmful effects on the species.”

The WHO panel’s statement said any human gene-editing work should be done for research only, should not be done in human clinical trials, and should be conducted transparently.

genes
After its first two-day meeting in Geneva, the WHO panel of gene-editing experts — which was established in December after a Chinese scientist said he had edited the genes of twin babies — said it had agreed on a framework for setting future standards. Pixabay

“It is irresponsible at this time for anyone to proceed with clinical applications of human germline genome editing.”

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The WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, welcomed the panel’s initial plans. “Gene editing holds incredible promise for health, but it also poses some risks, both ethically and medically,” he said in a statement.

The committee said it aims over the next two years to produce “a comprehensive governance framework” for national, local and international authorities to ensure human genome-editing science progresses within agreed ethical boundaries. (VOA)

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Genetic Alteration Can Increase Risk of Developing Autism and Tourette’s Syndrome

Some researchers also found that the ability of the Thalamic brain regions to communicate with other brain areas was impaired by the genetic deletion

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Genetic
Genetic deletion disrupts a brain area known as the Thalamus, compromising its ability to communicate with other brain areas. Pixabay

Researchers have discovered how a Genetic Alteration that increases the risk of developing Autism and Tourette’s impairs brain communication.

People with a genetic deletion known as chromosome 2p16.3 deletion often experience developmental delay and have learning difficulties.

They are also around 15 times more likely to develop Autism and 20 times more likely to develop Tourette’s Syndrome, but the mechanisms involved are not completely understood.

Using brain imaging studies, neuroscientists showed that deletion of the gene impacted by 2p16.3 deletion (Neurexin1) have impacts on the function of brain regions involved in both conditions.

This genetic deletion disrupts a brain area known as the Thalamus, compromising its ability to communicate with other brain areas, said the study published in the journal Cerebral Cortex.

“We currently have a very poor understanding of how the 2p16.3 deletion dramatically increases the risk of developing these disorders,” said lead researcher Neil Dawson of Lancaster University in Britain.

“However, we know that the 2p16.3 deletion involves deletion of the Neurexin1 gene, a gene that makes a protein responsible for allowing neurons to communicate effectively,” Dawson said.

Deletion of the Neurexin1 gene affects brain areas involved in Autism and Tourette’s including the Thalamus, a collection of brain regions that play a key role in helping other brain areas communicate with each other.

Autism
Researchers have discovered how a Genetic Alteration that increases the risk of developing Autism and Tourette’s impairs brain communication. Pixabay

Changes were also found in brain regions involved in processing sensory information and in learning and memory.

Importantly, the researchers also found that the ability of the Thalamic brain regions to communicate with other brain areas was impaired by the genetic deletion.

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They then tested the ability of a low dose of the drug Ketamine, which is used clinically at higher doses as an anesthetic, to normalise the alterations in brain function induced by genetic deletion.

“Intriguingly our data suggest that Ketamine can restore some aspects of the brain dysfunction that results from 2p16.3 deletion and suggests that ketamine, or other related drugs, may be useful in treating some of the symptoms seen in autism and Tourette’s,” Dawson said. (IANS)