China science

Dangers and possibilities of gene editing can be managed through government support and regulation

    PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 December, 2018, 3:14am
    UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 December, 2018, 3:14am

    I’m writing in response to the editorial, “Ethics and safety are key with probe into claims of gene editing” (November 28). I believe that more support can help in the development of this path-breaking technology.

    Scientists and other experts are saying that there are dangers in using this kind of gene-editing technology in the way that Chinese scientist He Jiankui did, including the danger of the technology being stolen and used for unethical purposes.

    But we must also consider the benefits of this project. In the case of HIV, a disease that cannot be cured, there is now the possibility of preventing human beings from contracting the virus through gene editing before birth. If this technology can be further developed and made safer and more stable, it might be used to prevent a lot more than HIV. This will definitely be the key to maintaining a longer, healthier life.

    Why gene-edited babies have been a scientific red line

    The only obstacle is the security one. Here, the government’s support and protection for both the scientists and the technology can help boost its development. Other than simply criticising He for conducting his experiment without the proper permission from the government, it is incumbent on the government to provide scientists such as He with financial, security and technological support.

    Michael Mak Ho-yuen, Tseung Kwan O