The world’s first genetically modified babies
This year saw global outcry as a Chinese scientist claimed he helped make the world’s first genetically modified human beings: twin girls whose DNA he said he altered.
A team at the Southern University of Science and Technology, in Shenzhen, planned to eliminate a gene called CCR5 to make the offspring resistant to HIV, smallpox and cholera.
The Chinese scientist behind the endeavour, He Jiankui of Shenzhen, used the gene editing tool, CRISPR, to create “genetically modified” human babies.
The result was met by public backlash, who deemed the experiment immoral, with many claiming it could lead to so-called “designer babies”.
However, the research was quickly thrown into question, with experts claiming Dr Jiankui had not achieved the astonishing feat, as the findings were not published in any medical or scientific journal where they would be peer-reviewed by other experts, leading some to believe he was hiding something.
This is a story that continues to develop and will be worth looking out for as we head in to 2019.