The widely-condemned Chinese scientist who created the world’s first gene-edited babies may have inadvertently enhanced their brains, Newsweek reported on Monday.
He Jiankui, in announcing in November the birth of twin girls whom he had genetically edited by deleting the CCR5 gene, said he had done so to have them become more resistant to HIV. He is currently under investigation by the Chinese government for what it called his “abominable” experiments.
Criticism of He’s act around the world centered on both the ethical issue of creating “designer” babies and the unknown side effects to the health of the person involved.
Now, UCLA neurobiologist Alcino Silva, told MIT Technology Review that his research shows that He’s genetic editing may result in the girls having altered cognitive abilities, because there is evidence to suggest that CCR5 is involved in memory and the development of neurological connections.
Silva said it is possible that one day scientist could increase the average IQ of the general population, but told Newsweek that “we simply don’t know what the consequences will be in mucking around. We are not ready for it yet.”
CCR5 also has a role in stroke recovery, according to research published in Cell.
Findings showed that those who naturally lack the gene recovered faster in terms of neurological impairments and cognitive function, while scientists also discovered that eliminating the gene after a stroke resulted in early recovery of motor control.
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