Five Couples Sign Up to Edit Babies’ Genes to Avoid Deafness

Five Couples Sign Up to Edit Babies’ Genes to Avoid Deafness

Russian biologist plans to seek permission.

Five Russian couples who are deaf want to try the CRISPR gene-editing technique, Michael Le Page reports in New Scientist.

The couples want to have biological children who can hear, and biologist Denis Rebrikov plans to apply to Russian authorities for permission in “a couple of weeks.”

Other researchers are skeptical. “Rebrikov is definitely determined to do some germline gene editing, and I think we should take him very seriously,” Australian National University CRISPR expert Gaetan Burgio told New Scientist. “But it’s too early, it’s too risky.”

All the parents have a recessive form of deafness, meaning that all their children would normally be born deaf.

Rebrikov works at Russia’s largest fertility clinic, the Kulakov National Medical Research Center for Obstetrics, Gynecology and Perinatology in Moscow, and he has sought out these very unusual couples because their case for gene editing seems compelling.

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