The baby crisperer
A Chinese scientist claims to have edited the genomes of two babies
Humanity’s power to control the four-letter code of life has advanced by leaps and bounds. A new gene-editing technology called CRISPR-Cas9, which was not discovered until 2012, has been the subject of particular excitement. It allows DNA to be edited easily, raising hopes that it could eventually be used to relieve human suffering. This week, however, CRISPR has caused more unease than optimism, because of claims by a Chinese scientist that he edited the genomes of twin girls when they were embryos, as part of IVF treatment.
人类控制生命四个字母的基因密码的能力突飞猛进 。CRISPR-Cas9是一项新的基因编辑技术，于2012年发现，一直是令人瞩目的焦点课题 。利用这一技术可轻松编辑基因，这让人们燃起最终将其运用至减轻人类痛苦的希望 。然而，本周CRISPR却让人忧大于喜，原因是一名中国科学家声称他成功编辑了一对双胞胎女孩的基因，操作是在体外受精过程中，在培育胚胎细胞时进行 。
He Jiankui, of the Southern University of Science and Technology, in Shenzhen—which was not involved in the work—says he edited a gene, CCR5, that allows HIV to infect human cell. Mr He claims to have created one baby resistant to HIV infection, and a twin who is not. (Another woman is apparently carrying an edited embryo.) If reproductive cells were affected, any such modifications will be passed on to subsequent generations. There is still uncertainty over what Mr He has done. But it is just a matter of time before someone, somewhere, edits human embryos that are grown into babies. Governments and regulators need to pay heed.
深圳的南方科技大学（该大学并未参与此工作）的贺建奎表示自己编辑了允许HIV感染人类细胞的基因CCR5 。贺建奎先生声称创造了一个对HIV病毒有抵抗力的婴儿，而同为双胞胎的另一个婴儿对HIV病毒则没有抵抗力 。（显然，一名妇女孕育了经过编辑的胚胎 。）如果生殖细胞受到影响，任何这种修饰都将遗传给后代 。贺建奎的所作所为仍有不确定性 。但是出现编辑过的人工胚胎成长为婴儿之事只是时间问题 。政府和监管机构需要注意这一点 。
Presume that Mr He’s assertions are truthful. One day it may make sense to edit an embryo—to cure genetic diseases, say. That day has not arrived. The technology is so new that the risks to human subjects cannot possibly justify the benefits. Scientists do not fully understand the scope of the unintended damage CRISPR does to DNA elsewhere in the genome or how deactivating CCR5 might leave you vulnerable to other diseases (it may, for instance, make death from flu more likely).
假定贺建奎的断言成真 。也许有一天编辑胚胎是有意义的——比如说，用来治疗遗传疾病 。但这一天还未到来 。这项技术还很新，其益处还不能让人们忽视经过基因编辑后所面临的风险 。科学家们并不完全清楚CRISPR对基因组中其他地方的DNA造成的意外损害的范围，也并不完全清楚CCR5的失活是否会导致更容易患上其他疾病（例如，会导致死于流感的可能性加大） 。
Mr He’s work appears to have had the scantiest oversight and a vice-minister says it violates regulations. Mr He told delegates at a gene-editing conference in Hong Kong this week that he had run the idea for the trial past four people. It seems likely that Mr He himself was largely responsible for deciding whether his human experiment was worth the risks. It is not clear that the babies’ parents gave their informed consent.
贺建奎的工作似乎有个大的疏忽，一位副部长称这种做法违反了规定 。在本周于香港举行的基因编辑会议上，贺建奎对与会代表表示，进行基因编辑试验的想法已经过四人同意 。贺建奎自己似乎在很大程度上要对其人体实验是否值得冒险负责 。目前尚不清楚基因编辑婴儿的父母是否知情同意 。
1.by leaps and bounds 突飞猛进
The trade in human kidneys has grown by leaps and bounds among the poor.
2.take/pay heed 注意
But what if the government takes no heed?