‘Temporary hurdle’: Russia halts scientist’s effort to create more CRISPR babies

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Image: Denis Rebrikov

Russian health officials are playing down international concerns that a Moscow researcher plans to create gene-edited babies any time soon, saying for the first time that the experiment would be “premature.”

Denis Rebrikov, the scientist who has said he wants to use the genome-editing technology CRISPR to alter embryos, has sparked widespread alarm among scientists who fear that he could become the second researcher to conduct such work, following the birth of gene-edited twins in China last year.

But in a statement issued last week to Russian wire services, the health ministry here said it fully supports the World Health Organization position against making changes to the human germline.

Related article:  Global expert survey reveals how regulation can help or hurt crop gene-editing innovation

The ministry’s stance puts at least a temporary hurdle in front of Rebrikov, who would need the agency’s approval to proceed with his experiment to repair a mutated gene that causes deafness.

Chekhonin, who said he knows Rebrikov well, said the scientist would not go against regulators in this matter: “I am confident he has the common sense not to break the law. I have no reason not to be confident in him.”

Read full, original post: Calling embryo editing ‘premature,’ Russian authorities seek to ease fears of a scientist going rogue

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