Russia gathers its best geneticists to decide whether to retake the witness of China in the creation of CRISPR babies, according to Bloomberg
This summer, after Denis Rebrikov announced that he wanted to make genetically engineered babies with CRISPR and the international scientific community put their hands back on their heads, the Kremlin convened some of the best Russian geneticists to discuss the matter. Apparently, the meeting was secret and has just come to light thanks to Bloomberg.
Is the next step in achieving human genetic editing in the hands of Russia?
A secret meeting
According to Bloomberg, the meeting between geneticists and health authorities included the participation of Putin's eldest daughter and supporter of research in this field, pediatric endocrinologist Maria Vorontsova. However, neither this nor the celebration of the meeting have been confirmed by the Russian government.
However, it makes sense. The Kulakov National Center for Medical Research for Obstetrics, Gynecology and Perinatology in Moscow has already announced that throughout the month it will ask the Russian Ministry of Health for a review of the protocols and regulations related to the regulation of CRISPR.
And it will not be an easy decision. On the one hand, Russia has the possibility of retaking the witness of leadership in this field once China has released it and the rest of the countries are reluctant to cross that red line. On the other hand, as we explained a few weeks ago, the Russian Orthodox Church has a very important weight in the public opinion of the country and, until now, has declared itself radically against it.
Can we control genetic editing?
Yesterday we were talking about the dangers and opportunities of synthetic DNA, and if we look at the matter calmly, we see something very similar happening with genetic editing of human embryos: as technology becomes cheaper, it is more difficult to control. And, if we listen to Denis Rebrikov, genetically changing an embryo would cost around $ 15,500 today. It is reasonable to think that in the future it will be much cheaper.
According to Bloomberg, Russia already has $ 2 billion committed to genetic research. And, as Antonio Regalado says, although all this can come to nothing, the truth is that Vladimir Putin has a somewhat worrying record of statements: in 2017 he already spoke of making super-soldiers.
Image | Don Fontijn