Russian family agrees to have genetically modified baby

Modifying children’s genes in Russia may become a realistic practice. Russian biologist and Deputy President of the Pirogov Russian Medical University, Denis Rebrikov, is preparing for an experiment during which he will attempt to genetically modify a baby for parents with hereditary deafness.

Moreover, he already found volunteers for the experiment. A Russian couple who both inherited deafness agreed to participate in the genetic modification. Their first child was also born deaf due to a hereditary change in the GJB2 gene. By altering the genetic makeup, the parents hope to avoid the disorder, N+1 reports.

Dmitry Rebrikov is currently preparing for the upcoming procedure. The future second-time mother is undergoing a hormonal therapy to produce several eggs. After creating an embryo, the scientist plans to modify its genome using the CRISPR technology and thus to eliminate the genetic mutation.

It is still too early to speak about planting an embryo in the mother’s womb because altering the gene may result in more mutations, which will be revealed by additional examination. Should there be no unintended mutations, the scientist plans to apply to the Healthcare Ministry for an authorization for the couple to carry an altered embryo, through a procedure that is similar to obtaining a permit to use medication that is not registered in Russia. The scientist notes that Russian law does not expressly prohibit genetic modification of human embryos. However, most experts in the field believe that the time has not come yet for this practice to become common.

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