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Will no CRISPR-edited babies be born in 2020?


Genome editing is a type of genetic engineering in which DNA is inserted, deleted, modified or replaced in the genome of a living organism (Wikipedia). CRISPR/Cas9 is a technique that allows for the highly specific and rapid modification of DNA in a genome.

On 25 November 2018, a Chinese scientist named He Jiankui made a startling announcement: as a result of experiments conducted at his clinic, the world’s first genetically edited babies, Lulu and Nana, had been born (Regalado, 2018b).

After Jiankui’s announcement, Vox asked “Is the CRISPR baby controversy the start of a terrifying new chapter in gene editing?” and a lot of other people also had the same question. But the answer (so far) seems to be no.

A Chinese court has sentenced He Jiankui, to three years in prison for “illegal medical practice”, and handed down shorter sentences to two colleagues who assisted him (Cyranoski, 2020). No new babies edited with CRISPR were announced this past year.

According to Vox's Kelsey Piper:

The fierce global backlash against Jiankui made it clear that the world is uncomfortable with such uses of technology — rightfully so, as there’s immense potential for misuse and Jiankui’s experiments were enormously irresponsible. I bet it won’t happen again this year — though I’m sure it’ll happen again someday.

Will no CRISPR-edited babies be born in the year 2020?

This question resolves positively, if by the end of 2021, no credible reports have emerged that a baby was born in the year 2020 whose embryo was genetically edited by way of a CRISPR system, such as CAS9. Reports need to be corroborated and substantiated so as to leave little room for doubt, e.g. by being corroborated by statements of research organisations, independent researchers, grant-makers or government science department or agencies.

In case positive resolution is triggered, this question retroactively closes two days prior to the day resolution is triggered, but resolves on January 1st, 2021.

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