China Races Ahead In Gene Editing – Unhampered By Rules

Note:   Chimera – The Days Of Noah
A past article and Levitt video on genetic manipulation.

And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. Luke 17:26

The subhead on the Wall Street Journal article,
“US help devise Crispr tool. Chinese doctors unfettered by rules are first in human trials.”

What is CRISPR?

CRISPR, a new genome editing tool, could transform the field of biology—and a recent study on genetically-engineered human embryos has converted this promise into media hype. But scientists have been tinkering with genomes for decades. Why is CRISPR suddenly such a big deal?

The short answer is that CRISPR allows scientists to edit genomes with unprecedented precision, efficiency, and flexibility….

In short, CRISPR is far better than older techniques for gene splicing and editing. And you know what? Scientists didn’t invent it.

CRISPR/Cas9 comes from strep bacteria…

CRISPR is actually a naturally-occurring, ancient defense mechanism found in a wide range of bacteria. As far as back the 1980s, scientists observed a strange pattern in some bacterial genomes. One DNA sequence would be repeated over and over again, with unique sequences in between the repeats. They called this odd configuration “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats,” or CRISPR.

This was all puzzling until scientists realized the unique sequences in between the repeats matched the DNA of viruses—specifically viruses that prey on bacteria. It turns out CRISPR is one part of the bacteria’s immune system, which keeps bits of dangerous viruses around so it can recognize and defend against those viruses next time they attack. The second part of the defense mechanism is a set of enzymes called Cas (CRISPR-associated proteins), which can precisely snip DNA and slice the hell out of invading viruses. Conveniently, the genes that encode for Cas are always sitting somewhere near the CRISPR sequences. Gizmodo

Immune system a hurdle to genetic treatment

A new study of CRISPR-Cas9 found that many people carry existing immunities to the proteins the widely used gene-editing method uses, which could render genetic treatments useless or harmful. The new discovery, published at bioRxiv, made investors jittery and sent some CRISPR shares plummeting, the news site Stat reported.  WorldWNG

Video:  CRISPR: Gene editing and beyond

“China Races Ahead In Gene Editing.”

Well, you see the problem and you understand immediately why worldview makes such a difference. Why? Because China is still operating out of the legacy of Confucianism and it is operating out of the very present reality of a Communist, Marxist, materialist worldview, a worldview enforced by the power and the authority of the Chinese Communist Party that presents the material world as all that matters, that openly denies anything supernatural and anything beyond the material world. The official worldview in China is not merely state enforced atheism, it is also state-mandated materialism. And in a material world, morality simply evaporates; there can be no moral truths if all that exists is material.

The article appeared Monday on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, an entire team of journal reporters contributed to the story, and the story begins by reminding us that the gene editing technology known as Crispr, a very dangerous technology that we’ve discussed often on The Briefing, it was developed in the United States. But in the United States there are both ethical and legal constraints upon not only the specific gene editing technology but upon all research having to do with human subjects. Now we should note that this is because in the West, and that includes the United States even in this secular age, there is still a residue of the Christian biblical worldview when it comes to the definition of humanity and the understanding of human rights. Even though many secular people in the West may insist, along with the Chinese Communist Party, that the only reality is the material reality our tradition in law speaks otherwise, and our understanding of human rights is deeply rooted in the understanding that human beings are created beings and are specifically created as the very pinnacle of creation, the only beings that are made in God’s own image.

In the United States there are strict protocols and there is an entire regime of law, not only in terms of criminal law but also civil law and the potential for litigation, that protects human subjects from medical research that is done without consent and without some degree of at least claimed oversight by the scientific community. You’ll recall that the most important principle is the first principle in the ancient Hippocratic oath governing medicine, or at least historically governing medicine, and that is the imperative that the physician or the medical researcher must do no harm. There is no similar principle and there certainly is no similar understanding of the human being in the Chinese context, and that’s what this story is all about, that’s why it made the front page of the Wall Street Journal. But there’s a lot more to this story than merely contrasting the worldview that is operational in China and the worldview that is, at least for now, operational in the United States. There are cracks in the picture in the United States that are very visible in the story.

But first, let’s go back to China. The reporters tell us that Chinese doctors and scientists, medical researchers, are pressing ahead fast with using the Crispr technology on broad scale experimentation amongst human patients, human subjects of research. The big story behind the Crispr technology is the fact that it is the first gene editing technology that can be used on the human genome. As you change the actual genetic structure of a human patient, the danger is that you’re not only changing the genetic structure of that human individual but of all human individuals who will follow in the reproductive line of that original edited genome. To state the matter bluntly, modern medical science has no way of knowing or predicting, much less guaranteeing, what kind of long-term implications will come from editing the human genome with what is called inheritable traits.

Carl June, who was the lead scientist for Crispr research at the University of Pennsylvania, warns that China is now going to beat the United States to apply medical technologies that were first pioneered in the West. Dr. June said,

“We are at a dangerous point in losing our lead and biomedicine.”

Now, I pointed out that you see cracks in the American worldview here. The crack becomes very evident when you see researchers in the United States looking jealously at China and at China’s lack of restrictions and laws governing this kind of technology applied to human subjects, and you have them warning that the United States is going to fall behind in these applications. The implication is clear: The United States needs to change its morality less it fall behind in technology.   AlbertMohler