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Embryo Editing with CRISPR in Russia
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Kodyleva, T. A., A. O. Kirillova, E. A. Tyschik, V. V. Makarov, A. V. Khromov, V. A. Guschin, A. N. Abybakirov, D. V. Rebrikov, and G. T. Sukhikh. 2018. “Эффективность создания делеции CCR5Ddelta32 методом CRISPR-Cas9 в эмбрионах человека.Научный Медицинский Журнал РНИМУ имени Н.И. Пирогова 4.

This makes Russia the world’s fourth country to have published a paper on this topic, along with the US, the UK, and China – the latter of which is currently leading the pack.

One of the authors, Denis Rebrikov, has been profiled in the Western scientific press.

Some highlights from Nature:

Molecular biologist Denis Rebrikov has told Nature he is considering implanting gene-edited embryos into women, possibly before the end of the year if he can get approval by then. Chinese scientist He Jiankui prompted an international outcry when he announced last November that he had made the world’s first gene-edited babies — twin girls.

The experiment will target the same gene, called CCR5, that He did, but Rebrikov claims his technique will offer greater benefits, pose fewer risks and be more ethically justifiable and acceptable to the public.

It appears that he is taking a more cautious approach than He Jiankui, who did it through relationships with American scientists and shady Chinese clinics that bypassed all official Chinese channels. Sound decision.

Implanting gene-edited embryos is banned in many countries. Russia has a law that prohibits genetic engineering in most circumstances, but it is unclear whether or how the rules would be enforced in relation to gene editing in an embryo. And Russia’s regulations on assisted reproduction do not explicitly refer to gene editing, according to a 2017 analysis of such regulations in a range of countries. (The law in China is also ambiguous: in 2003, the health ministry banned genetically modifying human embryos for reproduction but the ban carried no penalties and He’s legal status was and still is not clear).

Rebrikov expects the health ministry to clarify the rules on the clinical use of gene-editing of embryos in the next nine months. Rebrikov says he feels a sense of urgency to help women with HIV, and is tempted to proceed with his experiments even before Russia hashes out regulations.

One of my previous articles had a discussion on the legality of gene editing of human embryos. The coming decade will be a crucial one as maturing technologies will force the major countries to clear up their stances.

Konstantin Severinov, a molecular geneticist who recently helped the government design a funding programme for gene-editing research, says such approvals might be difficult. Russia’s powerful Orthodox church opposes gene editing, says Severinov, who splits his time between Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey, and the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology near Moscow.

The legislative success (or failure) of these initiatives will be different across countries. In Russia, the main opponent really is likely to be the ROC. Though it won’t matter much if Putin is for.

And from Science Mag:

Q: Only a subset of those want to get pregnant. What’s more, there’s been a steady introduction of new ARVs, and the new integrase inhibitors have extremely little evidence of people having drug resistance. Given that, what’s the rationale?

A: CCR5 editing is just a proof of concept. If I can’t find an HIV-infected woman who doesn’t respond to ARV therapy and wants to be pregnant, I’ll look for different cases where both parents have a homozygous mutation for some genetic disease, like dwarfism, deafness, or blindness. We need models to start to use CRISPR embryo editing in clinical practice. I think we need several, 50, maybe 100 cases of using this technology, and after that we can we can try to use it more broadly. For example, we can see in a family that all babies will be born with a high risk of cancer. Now, when genome editing is just starting, it’s dangerous and not proven so we can’t use it with them. But in the near future, I think we can say to these parents, “Would you like to make some changes in the genome of your babies to reduce their risk of cancer?” And not only cancer, but different diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and so on.

At first, practical applications will involve forestalling possible diseases. The ethical case for that is irreproachable, and would build a nice public view of these technologies. This would be a logical first step towards public acceptance for bolder, “transhumanist” applications.

Q: Two international committees are now discussing how to move forward with germline editing, and we also know the reaction to what He Jiankui did. If Russia went forward right now with this experiment, would those international considerations come into play?

A: I don’t think it’s possible to restrict some experiments worldwide. You can try to restrict it in some areas, researchers can go to islands in the Pacific Ocean if they want to do it. We can’t stop progress with words on paper. So even if we say, let’s not do the nuclear physics, because it can make a bomb, a lot of scientists will still do this. We can’t stop it. A lot of groups will try to do experiments with embryos to transfer to women, and maybe it won’t be in my group, but we will see in the next years that they will have some results, and they will publish it. That’s maybe the problem for humans on the planet, that we cannot stop the progress.

This is what I pointed out as well. No legal genetic editing, and many of the elites will use black clinics in out of the way places. This will ironically the doomsayings of massive inequality that leftists use to argue against human genetic editing.

Q: What do you think of the harsh reaction to what He did?

A: That’s a normal reaction of human population and all life systems, not only humans—maybe birds. Any life system, 90% of a population is very conservative. That’s normal. And maybe 5% is progressive. We just need to wait some time, maybe some years. And we need very good clinical cases to show people that this instrumentation is powerful, but it’s safe and has good results.

That’s a rather deep point.

Q: Has anything happened since the Nature story appeared? Has any government official called you and said, “Stop this, don’t talk about this?”

A: No. Russia now, I think, is a good country to do this type of experiments. It’s not very free in politics, but it’s very free in science.

Well, this is good and encouraging to hear.

Q: What do you think of germline editing that’s not for disease, but for enhancement of things like running speed, IQ, or eye color?

A: It will be the next step. But in 20 to 30 years. Now, I’m opposed to it. In 2040, I’ll support it. I’m not against the idea itself. And these people who are opposed want to have all these things in their children but only by “divine providence,” not by science. They are liars or stupid.

Again, this also sounds very reasonable. The technology is currently nowhere near mature enough yet to reliably edit for polygenic traits. But 20-30 years sounds about right.

I do wonder what the consensus is.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that there have been any expert surveys on this topic to date.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Crispr, Futurism, Genetic Engineering, Russia 
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  1. Please keep off topic posts to the current Open Thread.

    If you are new to my work, start here.

  2. Editing genome to remove some illness gene – i’m all for it .

    But this mambo-jumbo about IQ enhancing … not only that i don’t see it feasible even in 20-30 years,but also doesn’t it implies that people advocating it consider good part of their countryman morons who need ” enhancing ” ?

    Especially on case of Russia – population is intelligent enough ( and was always in history ) it’s not THAT that’s ” holding it back ” .

    This is more of something that ” wakandans ” will jump to enhance themselves,but since they are ” wakandans ” after all,((( elites))) will push on them,imagine headlines in 30 years ” let’s pay for gene-enhancing of Africans as reparation for slavery ” .

    • Replies: @Realist
  3. CRISPR is not sufficient for real changes in IQ and executive function in embryos. What is needed is whole chromosome synthesis, which is still 15-20 years away. A blogger called “Gwern” has the best write-up I can find on the subject:

    https://www.gwern.net/Embryo-selection

    As you can see, its a rather long read. It is worth it to really understand the technology and cost involved in doing designer baby stuff.

  4. songbird says:

    I don’t know whether it is really true or not, but back when syphilis was a scourge, people used to talk about catching it from cooking utensils.

    Whatever the case, I wonder if God created HIV.

  5. songbird says:
    @songbird

    Would globohomo exist without antiretrovirals? I tend to think not.

  6. Pontius says:

    Editing genes for higher IQ sounds great, but what happens when we have a society of 160 IQ individuals and we need a load of cement delivered, or a transmission rebuilt? Does this sound like the type of work these individuals would likely, or like to, undertake? What then? Do the deep thinkers get to decide to ratchet down the IQ’s of a select group of people for whom such work would be acceptable if not particularly enjoyable? Which parents would accept that for their children? Or do we breed these people in artificial wombs as servants of the state? How do you think a person would react to finding out his IQ had been artificially restricted so Dr. Moneybags could find a decent gardener?

    • Replies: @Mr. XYZ
    , @songbird
  7. Mr. XYZ says:
    @Pontius

    Editing genes for higher IQ sounds great, but what happens when we have a society of 160 IQ individuals and we need a load of cement delivered, or a transmission rebuilt? Does this sound like the type of work these individuals would likely, or like to, undertake? What then?

    We’ll probably build robots to deal with these issues by that point in time.

    • Replies: @Denis
  8. Mr. XYZ says:

    Two points:

    1. I hope that this technology is going to become accessible and affordable for ordinary people. This is why I strongly support having governments subsidize the costs of this for people with lower incomes.

    2. I hope that this technology is going to become accessible and affordable to ordinary people within the next 20 to 30 years. Else, I will be too old to be able to use this technology for the benefit of my hypothetical future children.

  9. songbird says:
    @Pontius

    but what happens when we have a society of 160 IQ individuals and we need a load of cement delivered

    Robots that 3d print in concrete already exist in Japan.

    or a transmission rebuilt?

    all transmissions would last 300k miles. Standardization and building things to last would save a lot of mechanical work.

    My main objection is do we want them to tinker with the brains of our offspring? They could select political views and conformism, or slave mentality. Then, there is the issue of developing a standard brain, with standard patterns of thought. A lot of geniuses were smart people who have flawed brains – maybe it was the combination rather than the good SNPs alone.

  10. Cererean says:

    As far as HIV resistance is concerned, why are they looking to engineer embryos first? Surely it would make more sense to modify bone marrow stem cells and retransplant them into adults who actually have it…

    In my view, all changes should be done in animals and adults first. Once they’ve been proven there, we can move to editing germline cells.

    I suspect producing modified sperm will be a lot cheaper than creating and transplanting embryos. Half the benefit (well, all if it’s a dominant trait), but maybe a tenth the cost. The next generation, 3/4ths of the benefit, then after them, 7/8ths.

  11. Not only CRISPR is an incremental change, but looks like it has been superseded, during the spring, by a transposon-based method. Can we get back to GoT?

  12. Anonymous[774] • Disclaimer says:

    Once the tech is reasonably reliable we will discover it’s portability as well as the portability of women.

    So, maybe a couple goes on a Caribbean “repro cruise” and comes back preggers.

    Or maybe only the lass goes to, oh, let’s say Guatemala for a few days. Comes back with a bun in the over.

    Laws? Phooey, it’s portable!

    Remember that the generation that has to compete with a modified and optimally-fit bunch of peers will not hesitate to demand the same advantage for their children.

    I gotta go…

  13. @songbird

    I doubt it. The spirochete doesn’t survive away from the human body. The tests are never geared for finding the spirochetes themselves, or the chancres, because it doesn’t survive.

    Just wanted to add an alternative term for “pozzed”. Our Gypsies know the test uses blood. They refer to a positive syphilis test as “I got crosses in blood”. You know, cross, +.

  14. Realist says:
    @Other Side

    Editing genome to remove some illness gene – i’m all for it .

    But this mambo-jumbo about IQ enhancing … not only that i don’t see it feasible even in 20-30 years,but also doesn’t it implies that people advocating it consider good part of their countryman morons who need ” enhancing ” ?

    IQ enhancing will happen much sooner than 20-30 years….it is sorely needed. IQ enhancing advocates are correct that a good part of their countrymen are morons. And there is always the added benefit that IQ enhanced people will understand the letter ‘I’ when used as first-person singular nominative pronoun is always uppercase.

  15. @Realist

    It will happen, but not much sooner than 20 years.

    About 1,000 genes are involved in IQ development. I also suspect there are epigenetic effects (mostly from the bio-chemical environment of the womb) that are also involved in IQ development. 1,000 genes is too much for CRISPR. Whole chromosome synthesis will be needed to do this, and that is what will take a good 15-20 years to develop. I really think there are no shortcuts in this development.

    • Replies: @Realist
    , @utu
  16. @Realist

    I will send you a letter when i start caring about grammar of English language .

    Also i’m not sure you understand that this will work for yet unborn people … no hope for you 🙂

  17. Realist says:
    @Abelard Lindsey

    I obviously disagree with you. But there is nothing either of us can do about it.

  18. anonymous[134] • Disclaimer says:

    Good news.
    In related news, artificial womb technology is also advancing in leaps and bounds.

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190326105650.htm

    Our dreams will become reality, soon.

    http://www.unz.com/akarlin/paper-review-artificial-wombs/

    The Russian Galactic Empire is coming. Nothing can stop it.

    • Replies: @melanf
  19. The successful development of ectogenesis (exowombs) is a bigger deal than CRISPR for reproduction in my opinion. Once proven safe, I think ectogenesis will be tremendously popular as many women do not want to go through the physiological distortion resulting from natural pregnancy. I see this over a 20 year period as well.

  20. utu says:
    @Abelard Lindsey

    About 1,000 genes are involved in IQ development.

    1000 genes can’t even explain 5% of IQ variance. Get real.

  21. @Realist

    “And there is always the added benefit that IQ enhanced people will understand the letter ‘I’ when used as first-person singular nominative pronoun is always uppercase.”

    You do realize that many people use tablets and cell phones these days, and often it is more of a pain in the ass to find the proper capital letters.

    • Replies: @Realist
  22. And these people who are opposed want to have all these things in their children but only by “divine providence,” not by science. They are liars or stupid.

    Idiotic bullshit. You can already have custom-designed children with the desired IQ or eye color.

    All you need are the mysterious stone-age technologies called “vetting your spouse” and “having lots of kids”.

    But of course in 2019 this wisdom of the ancients is lost, and instead of making rational decisions for reproduction the world runs on “lurve” and “feelz”.

    So what makes you think rationality will be restored when CRISPR tech comes?

    Not a chance! If anything, reproductive choices will be even more irrational and insane.

    Tech can’t cure spiritual deformities.

  23. @Abelard Lindsey

    I think ectogenesis will be tremendously popular as many women do not want to go through the physiological distortion resulting from natural pregnancy.

    Pregnancy is the easy and simple part of childbirth and childrearing.

    • Agree: Dreadilk
  24. Anonymous[419] • Disclaimer says:
    @Realist

    With genetic IQ enhancement (up or DOWN) and GENETIC PERSONALITY ENHANCEMENT for each jati (endogamous, professionally specialized sub-caste), HBD could become really interesting really fast.

  25. melanf says:
    @anonymous

    The Russian Galactic Empire is coming. Nothing can stop it

    .

  26. Realist says:
    @jbwilson24

    You do realize that many people use tablets and cell phones these days, and often it is more of a pain in the ass to find the proper capital letters.

    The ‘shift’ key does the trick. But I don’t give a crap….you’re making excuses.

    • Replies: @Other Side
  27. @Realist

    So what is your excuse for :

    ” …. and has nothing to do with intellegence. ”

    ” Science doesn’t take critical thinking and imagagination ? ”

    ” …..who publicly electocuted an elephant. ”

    etc. etc.

    • Replies: @Realist
  28. Realist says:
    @Other Side

    So what is your excuse for :

    ” …. and has nothing to do with intellegence. ”

    ” Science doesn’t take critical thinking and imagagination ? ”

    ” …..who publicly electocuted an elephant. ”

    etc. etc.

    Don’t need an excuse all true.

    • Replies: @Other Side
  29. @Realist

    Grammatically incorrect .

    Makes it funny that you who make so many grammar mistakes are the one to jab at other people grammar mistakes with talk about ” IQ enhancing morons who don’t know proper grammar ” … well indeed .

    • Replies: @Realist
  30. Dreadilk says:
    @Abelard Lindsey

    It all depends on the cost. Plus things are getting a bit too easy on women. A lot of them are even refusing to breast feed.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  31. anonymous[294] • Disclaimer says:
    @Dreadilk

    Just like you are refusing to hunt for food and are buying food in supermarket like a pussy.

    Mother Nature not impressed.

    • Replies: @Mitleser
  32. Mitleser says:
    @anonymous

    Based German Filibert Heim does what you suggest, hunting for food and not buying food in super markets.

  33. Realist says:
    @Other Side

    Makes it funny that you who make so many grammar mistakes are the one to jab at other people grammar mistakes with talk about ” IQ enhancing morons who don’t know proper grammar ” … well indeed .

    There is nothing wrong with what I wrote….no grammatical errors.

    One thing is for sure I really tagged your ass.

    • Replies: @Other Side
  34. Denis says:
    @Mr. XYZ

    Why would our elites want to do that though? The rich in western countries already prefer importation of unskilled labour from the third world to streamlining the functions of their firms. We are already on the way to implementing technology that can eliminate plenty of retail jobs, but many firms still employ cheap, unskilled labour instead of engaging in costly and time-consuming updates. The fact that it is more economical in the long run to update technology doesn’t faze them. So, why would the rich and powerful suddenly decide to pay a middle-class gene-enhanced savant massive amounts of money to operate and maintain advanced, expensive technology when they could instead see to it that a large chunk of society doesn’t have access to gene editing in the first place? Paying a pittance to masses of people for menial work may well be the less expensive option in the short run.

    Not saying I’m against the advancement of this field, I agree with Rebrikov that this technology will be developed one way or another. But I personally wouldn’t be too surprised if those at the top of society would like to capture the benefits of these advances while excluding the general public.

  35. @Realist

    LoL

    Stop embarrassing yourself .

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