China draws up tighter rules on human gene and embryo trials

  1. China’s top legislature have decided to consider tougher rules on research involving human genes and embryos.
  2. Under the draft law sent to the top legislature,medical and human trials will face closer scrutiny and stricter requirements,such as ensuring human subjects are properly briefed.Further,the rules will also require all future trials to be approved by administrative authorities as well as ethical committees.
  3. This move comes after the Chinese scientist had sparked controversy by announcing he had created the world’s first “gene-edited” babies. He had said that he used CRISPR-9 to alter the embryonic genes of twin girls born.
  4. Further,he also said that this gene editing would help protect the girls from infection with HIV,the virus that causes AIDS.However,Chinese authorities as well as international scientists condemned him and said that any application of gene editing on human embryos for reproductive purposes was against the law and medical ethics globally.
  5. Gene editing is the deliberate alteration of a selected DNA sequence in a living cell.It involves editing an organism’s DNA by altering, removing or adding nucleotides to the genome.
  6. CRISPR-Cas9 (‘Clustered Regularly Interspaced Palindromic Repeats) is a tool used for gene editing.The technique involves a DNA cutting enzyme and a small tag which tells the enzyme where to cut.Cas9 stands for CRISPR-associated protein 9, and is the nuclease part that cuts the DNA.