Gene-edited Chinese babies may have enhanced brains, scientists say

Sarah Zheng:

Controversial Chinese scientist He Jiankui, who shocked the world with claims he helped create the first gene-edited babies, may have unintentionally enhanced the brains of the children whose genes he altered, according to scientists.

He, who was found to have “seriously violated” Chinese laws in the pursuit of his work, likely changed the cognitive functions of twin girls when he used the gene-editing tool CRISPR to disable the CCR5 gene that allows HIV to infect human cells, the MIT Technology Review reported.
Neurobiologist Alcino J. Silva, from the University of California, Los Angeles, who co-authored a 2016 study that found CCR5 was linked to deficits in learning and memory, said the gene editing likely affected the babies’ brains, though the exact effect was impossible to predict.
“The simplest interpretation is that those mutations will probably have an impact on cognitive function in the twins,” Silva was quoted as saying.