Why Vladimir Putin could allow development of 'designer babies'

sonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-in - Black read more

A Russian scientist who wants to use controversial gene-editing to give a deaf couple a hearing baby is seeking support from Vladimir Putin's daughter.

Denis Rebrikov revealed in the summer he wants to use the DNA editing technique called Crispr, to help the couple who want to prevent their planned child from inheriting their condition.

Deafness is caused by a missing part of DNA which stops someone's hearing ever developing - something which Mr Rebrikov thinks he is able to repair using the gene-editing science.

But his plans have come in for heavy criticism from the scientific community and the 150-year-old British academic journal Nature who have warned that the dangers of DNA passed on to the offspring are not well understood, as reported by Bloomberg.

After the uproar, Russia's top scientists convened a secret meeting in southern Moscow with Vladimir Putin's eldest daughter, an endocrinologist, to discuss Rebrikov's plans.

Denis Rebrikov revealed in the summer he wants to use a DNA editing technique called Crispr, to help a deaf couple who want to prevent their planned child from inheriting their condition.

Denis Rebrikov revealed in the summer he wants to use a DNA editing technique called Crispr, to help a deaf couple who want to prevent their planned child from inheriting their condition.

Realistically, Putin is the only one who can green-light the use of the technology, and will have the ear of Maria Vorontsova, pictured, his eldest daughter

Realistically, Putin is the only one who can green-light the use of the technology, and will have the ear of Maria Vorontsova, pictured, his eldest daughter

Realistically, Putin is the only one who can green-light the use of the technology, and will have the ear of his daughter Maria Vorontsova, who left the three hour meeting without giving a definitive 'yes or no' answer.

However, Vorontsova - who works at the National Endocrinology Research Center - did say gene-editing should be banned in the private sector and that you cannot halt scientific progress.  

Putin himself has hardly shied away from the topic, saying in 2017 that people would start editing pre-birth DNA 'soon.'

And the 66-year-old has also said he thinks the impact of gene-editing could have an even greater impact on society than Artificial Intelligence.

Vorontsova's comments at the meeting have given proponent's of Rebrikov's cause at the meeting cause to feel confident about Rebrikov's application he is preparing to submit to the Health Ministry in October.

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, declined to comment to Bloomsburg on gene editing.

But given the scale of the decision and the fact Putin allocated $2billion for genetic research, and his daughter oversees its work, it seems unlikely he wouldn't have the last say. 

The Kremlin has never confirmed Vorontsova is Putin's daughter, with her father keen to keep her out of the spotlight. 

If the project goes ahead, the biochemist will follow in the footsteps of rogue Chinese scientist He Jiankui after he announced the birth of twin girls who were born genetically resistant to HIV.

He was condemned by the Chinese government and has not been heard from since. 

Dr He Jiankui hit headlines earlier this year when he revealed twins had allegedly been born from embryos he had genetically edited using CRISPR

Dr He Jiankui hit headlines earlier this year when he revealed twins had allegedly been born from embryos he had genetically edited using CRISPR

This graphic reveals how, theoretically, an embryo could be 'edited' using the powerful tool Crispr-Cas9 to defend humans against HIV infection

This graphic reveals how, theoretically, an embryo could be 'edited' using the powerful tool Crispr-Cas9 to defend humans against HIV infection

The scientific community awaits with bated breath, as what Putin decides as it could open the floodgates for other scientists to engage in controversial experiments on DNA. 

Rebrikiv himself has been bullish in recent interviews and saying his is pushing ahead with the project, is bored of waiting for officials to define the legal parameters.

HOW DOES CRISPR DNA EDITING WORK?

The CRISPR gene editing technique is being used an increasing amount in health research because it can change the building blocks of the body.

At a basic level, CRISPR works as a DNA cutting-and-pasting operation.

Technically called CRISPR-Cas9, the process involves sending new strands of DNA and enzymes into organisms to edit their genes. 

In humans, genes act as blueprints for many processes and characteristics in the body – they dictate everything from the colour of your eyes and hair to whether or not you have cancer.  

The components of CRISPR-Cas9 – the DNA sequence and the enzymes needed to implant it – are often sent into the body on the back of a harmless virus so scientists can control where they go.

Cas9 enzymes can then cut strands of DNA, effectively turning off a gene, or remove sections of DNA to be replaced with the CRISPRs, which are new sections sent in to change the gene and have an effect they have been pre-programmed to produce.

But the process is controversial because it could be used to change babies in the womb – initially to treat diseases – but could lead to a rise in 'designer babies' as doctors offer ways to change embryos' DNA. 

Source: Broad Institute 

He added: 'It currently costs about a million rubles

read more from dailymail.....

Get the latest news delivered to your inbox

Follow us on social media networks

PREV Barclays bosses face MPs' inquiry over bank's ban on customers taking cash out ...
NEXT Democrats set for 4th debate after impeachment inquiry upends race: LIVE