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贺建奎编辑婴儿基因事件说明监管基因编辑刻不容缓
Regulate genome-editing is a must


 
这是有关中国科学家贺建奎编辑婴儿基因事件的第二篇文章。想阅读同一话题的第一篇文章,请点击:http://chinesenewsgroup.com/news/665812
This is the second part of an article focusing on He Jiankui's project on babies born with edited genomes. For the first part of this article, please click: http://chinesenewsgroup.com/news/665812.
 
十多年来,科学家们一直在进行基因编辑的研究。当我的一个女儿在攻读生物学的博士学位时,她研究的项目涉及向斑马热带鱼卵中注入“发光基因”。为了每天早晨能收集到做实验用鱼卵,我帮她做了一个让鱼在其中产卵的圈套。那些被注入发光基因的普通斑马热带鱼出生后会发光。当这些鱼再产卵时,发光的基因也将传给其后代。

Scientists have worked on genome-editing for over a decade. Back when one of my daughters was working towards her Phd in biology, her project involved the injection of a “glowing gene” into zebra tropical fish eggs. I helped her to device a trap to collect the eggs from her laboratory every morning for her experiments. Regular zebra tropical fishes developed glowing characteristics when they were born after the eggs are treated that way. This mutation will pass onto future generations when these fishes reproduce.

 
为了确保这些变异的鱼种不会改变自然鱼种,它们将被彻底销毁。虽然这种鱼在寒冷气候下生存的可能性为零,但科学家们不敢大意。如果这些变种的鱼类可以在其原生环境中繁殖,它们将污染这些鱼所原有的基因库,或把现有的鱼种完全取代。我对销毁变种的实验鱼特别小心。我记得电影“侏罗纪公园”里曾描述了变种的的恐龙没有被彻底销毁而产生的后果。科学家称之为“船到桥头也不一定直”。

To ensure that there are not chances for these mutated fishes to contaminate the natural populations, they would be sterilized. While there are zero chances of survival in cold climates, scientists will not take chances. If these fishes can reproduce in their native environment, they will pollute the gene pool of the original species or wipe them out through better adaptations. I was always concerned about the sterilization process. I remember the movie “Jurassic Park” when supposedly sterile dinosaurs were found producing off-springs. The scientist remarked “Nature will find a way”.

贺建奎的项目包括两个步骤:先编辑基因组,然后植入受精卵,最终产生婴儿。这个概念类似于上面的斑马鱼实验。但贺的实验有很多可怕的后果。只有在没有其他办法挽救一个人的生命时,人们才会对一个人进行基因编辑,而且这种编辑不会繁衍到下一代。 

He's project consists of two steps – editing of the genome followed by implanting of fertilized eggs and eventual birth of babies. The concept is similar to the zebra fish experiment above but with much dire consequences. Genome-editing has been performed on living human beings to try and save their lives as a last resort and such alterations will not pass onto the next generations through reproduction.

 
在贺建奎宣布其所做的实验之前,许多科学家已经开始担心有人会搞出一个基因被编辑过的人。 2016年,科学家用一个人的健康DNA替换了尚未出生的孩子的病变DNA,从而消除了原胚胎中的病变基因。这种疗法用于防止线粒体疾病从母亲传给孩子。被该方法医治的母亲患有莱氏症,已经有过四次流产,而且她两个孩子死于莱氏症。这种医疗方法在英国可以做,但在美国却不允许。这种医疗方法与贺建奎的项目有天壤之别,前者是在严格地控制和监管下进行的,且取得了成功。

Even before He’s revelations, many scientists were already worried about the prospect that someone was on the brink of creating a gene-edited person. In 2016, scientists replaced diseased DNA in an embryo with healthy DNA from another person, eliminating the embryo's original disease-causing mutation. Essentially, this kind of replacement therapy has been used to prevent the transmission of mitochondrial diseases from mother to child. The mother involved had Leigh disease and already had four miscarriages and two her children who had died of the disease. The procedure is approved in United Kingdom but not in the United States. Again, this is not similar to what He was doing and the project is a success under tight control and monitoring.

许多研究人员担心,贺建奎的做法可能会影响基因编辑研究的未来。在美国,一些科学家建议严禁基因编辑。 11月28日,美国国家卫生研究院主任柯林斯在一份声明中表示:“全世界需要对控制基因研究项目达成共识,而这正是香港峰会上讨论的事,这种控制刻不容缓。”香港峰会结束后发表了一个声明,呼吁人们要为基因编辑技术安全地转化为治疗方法开绿灯。“如果能控制风险,基因编辑可以在未来进行。”

Many researchers fear that He's revelations could hamper the future of germline-editing. In the US some scientists are suggesting draconian bans. On 28 November, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) director Francis Collins said in a statement that “the need for development of binding international consensus on setting limits for this kind of research, now being debated in Hong Kong, has never been more apparent.” The statement released at the Hong Kong summit’s close makes a plea to keep open a path for safely translating gene-editing technology into treatments: “Germline genome editing could become acceptable in the future if these risks are addressed.”

 
香港峰会的组委会建议世界各地的科学院相互合作,并向各自政府提出意见。它还建议设立一个国际论坛,汇总各类研究和临床试验成果,并讨论各国如何分享基因编辑所带来的成果。

The Hong Kong summit's organizing committee suggests that science academies around the world make recommendations to their own governments, while coordinating with each other. It also suggests the creation of an international forum that would funnel research and clinical trials through an international registry,  and discuss issues such as equitable access to the benefits of gene editing.
 
由于贺建奎回到中国后就无影无踪了,他的项目中有许多问题仍未得到解答。显然,贺实验的出发点是通过科技谋取利润,至于是否道德就不管这么多了。可以想象,不久以后,父母们会希望让出生的婴儿具有他们事先选择的理想特征。许多人可能想要克隆自己,以便当他们自己身上的器官不工作时,用没有副作用的克隆器官代替。科学研究界反对这些激进的行为,因为这么做被视为“不道德”。

With the disappearance of He back into China, many questions remain unanswered. It would appeared that the whole incident was motivated by commercial exploitation of scientific procedures without giving any consideration to ethics. Before long, customers will want to have babies born with desirable attributes of their choosing. Many may want to have a clone of themselves so that they can harvest totally compatible organs when their own aging organs fail to function. The scientific research community is against all of these aggressive projects as they are considered as “unethical”.

 
我们必须采取行动阻止类似贺建奎那样的研究项目。那些目无法规的人必须受到惩罚。贺建奎和他的项目给我们敲起了警钟。科学研究界不要等到事态发展到不可收拾的地步才行动,那就太晚了。

There must be actions taken to eliminate incidents such as those created by He. There need to be enforcement that punishes rogue behaviour. He and his projects served to sound the alarm bells. We can only wait to see how the scientific research community will react to that alarm before it is too late.
 

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