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Aurora magazine

CRISPR will save 5 children from deafness. maybe

An article in the New Scientist returns to talk about Crispr and genetic editing. According to journalist Michael Le Page, five Russian couples would like to use the technique to correct their embryos. All couples are composed of deaf people or healthy carriers of the genes that cause deafness. Using Crispr, they could have hearing children. Maybe.

At the head of the project is the Russian biologist Denis Rebrikov, who announces that he wants to ask permission from the Russian authorities. The announcement, however, does discuss because of all the possible ethical repercussions and for the alleged precedents. A few months ago the news of the birth of two Chinese twins that, according to scientists, would be the first GMO human beings ever born, was released.

Crispr technology could cure serious genetic disorders before they occur. However, the long-term effects are unclear: what would happen if the technique created new heritable mutations? Furthermore, there are a number of concerns related to the risk of eugenic drifts. Neither seems to have discouraged Dr. Rebrikov, though. All ten possible study participants have a mutated version of the GJB2 gene, which causes deafness.

The biologist wants to correct the gene in the germ lines, so as to have only embryos without defects and healthy. Technically it's feasible, but the scientific community believes it's too early for such a step.