Gene-edited babies may live shorter lives, analysis finds

Chinese scientist He Jiankui edited the genes of two babies to be resistant to HIV, provoking outrage. Now, a new genetic analysis shows why this was reckless.

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  • The gene-editing technique CRISPR offers major benefits to humanity, but scientists don't believe the field is mature enough for widespread editing.
  • For this reason, when Chinese scientist He Jiankui edited the genes of two babies to be resistant to HIV, his work provoked outrage.
  • A new study of 400,000 genetic profiles reveals that He's genetic editing did indeed have an unintended consequence.
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Surprising Science

Forget the Anthropocene: We’ve entered the synthetic age

Synthetic biology is changing the way the planet works.

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One fact about our time is becoming increasingly well-known. No matter how far you travel, no matter in which direction you point, there is nowhere on Earth that remains free from the traces of human activity.

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Surprising Science

The strange genetic twist in Campbell's tomato soup

New research solves a long-standing puzzle.

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  • Breeders found a genetic tweak that made tomatoes easier to pick, but they didn't grow as well.
  • Modern technology has revealed an ancient surprise hidden in the fruit.
  • New research showcases how much we're still learning about crop gene editing.
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Surprising Science

CRISPR-edited babies born in China may have enhanced brain functions

The brains of two genetically edited babies born last year in China might have enhanced memory and cognition, but that doesn't mean the scientific community is pleased.

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  • In November, Chinese scientist He Jiankui reported that he'd used the CRISPR tool to edit the embryos of two girls.
  • He deleted a gene called CCR5, which allows humans to contract HIV, the virus which causes AIDS.
  • In addition to blocking AIDS, deleting this gene might also have positive effects on memory and cognition. Still, virtually all scientists say we're not ready to use gene-editing technology on babies.
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Surprising Science

Chinese scientist vanishes after claiming to have made first gene-edited babies

The controversial scientist He Jiankui is currently missing after causing major controversy in late November.

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  • He Jiankui caused international controversy by claiming to have used the CRISPR gene-editing tool to modify the genes of two babies.
  • Some reports suggested he was being held under house arrest, though others say that's inaccurate.
  • It's not unusual for people to disappear in China at the hands of government authorities.
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Politics & Current Affairs