The global scientific community has been outraged by a Chinese scientist He Jiankui’s claim of creating the world’s first genetically modified baby using the gene editing technique CRISPR-Cas9. The scientist claims that baby Lulu – who differs from previous recipients of gene therapies like Layla Richards1 – was born with a genetic modification and will pass it on to any child she may have in future.
On ethical and safety grounds, scientists worldwide have abstained till now2 from genetically-modified embryo experiments. However, the Chinese case hints that some researchers may be secretly competing to outbid their peers in creating gene-editing based solutions. There have also been instances of biohackers crafting DIY CRISPR kits3, affording buyers with elements that could be used in home experiments.