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Chinese scientist under fire for genetically modifying human embryo



A Chinese scientist got the world’s attention after allegedly experimenting on a human.

The researcher, He Jiankui, who goes by JK, is under fire by many colleagues, after saying he successfully genetically modified a human embryos for a mother expecting twins. JK modified the embryos, apparently making them resistant to HIV.

“If he did what he said he did, then we have some significant ethical concerns because there hasn’t been clarity around the actual research process,” Tom Harter, Director of Bioethics and Humanities for Gundersen Health System in La Crosse said.

JK said he altered embryos for seven couples, with one pregnancy so far.

“If you’re going to do scientific research using human subjects, you better have a pretty good idea, a good hypothesis that what you’re going to have an impact or make a difference for the people who you’re doing this with,” Harter said.

“How does this impact the future of humanity if people can now all the sudden change human genetics to specify it to various characteristics that some people find more appealing than the alternative characteristic?”

Harter says most scientific standards require a high likelihood of success before a researcher tests on humans.

PHOTO: Feng Zhang, center, an institute member of Harvard and MIT’s Broad Institute, is surrounded by reporters while speaking on the issue of world’s first genetically edited babies after the Human Genome Editing Conference in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018. He Jiankui, a Chinese researcher, claims that he helped make the world’s first genetically edited babies twin girls whose DNA he said he altered with a powerful new tool capable of rewriting the very blueprint of life. If true, it would be a profound leap of science and ethics. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Born in Decorah Iowa. I've been a news reporter for the last 10 years, starting right out of college in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Other professional opportunities led me to Marshalltown, Iowa and Antigo Wisconsin, before I finally was afforded the opportunity here in La Crosse. I've been here since 2016. I also act as the voice of local sports, doing play by play of high school and college football and basketball. When not working I enjoy golfing.

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