What Could Possibly Go Wrong?


The number of individuals who changed the world with imperfect genes is pretty large. At the same time, it’s hard not to want to limit the genes that lead to terminal or debilitating illnesses. Then the pressure on the kids… parents put a lot of pressure on their not perfect to order children. Can you imagine what would happen if that perfect model baby wound up being fat by the age of 10…


As someone who got to watch his grandfather waste away to ALS, and just saw one of his gf’s favorite showrunners ever pass to the same, I absolutely grasp the horrifying implifications of gene editing and designer babies, but there is a lovely undercurrent of horrifying, guilt-inducing panic that continuously shrieks “FUCK THAT NOISE CRISPR MY 'SOMES BABY” in the back of my skull.


Don’t worry. Climate change will kill us all before this becomes an issue. Look on the bright side.


Gengineering is unavoidable, it’s manifest destiny. The technology exists, can’t put the genie back in the bottle, and it will get cheaper, fast. We need to figure out how to deal with that.


This is the horrible double edged sword. Think of our current loser leader and his insane narcissism. His “my kids are better than yours because they’re thin, blue-eyed, blond haired etc”. I’m also disgusted with the designer embryo facilities. There’s a person who remains nameless who decided she needed blond haired, blue eyed kids with specific traits. It made me want to barf cause it was just like when they went shopping for a designer pure-breed dog. I think these facilities should only match -parental natural eye/hair color and not let you choose because it turns having children into some sick shopping experience.

On the other hand, debilitating diseases, if they could be treated embryonically would be great. But… what about those people who can’t afford it? The sick become stigmatized as the “too poor to avoid disease” types.

And you know me, I have one of those horrible inherited diseases. So the only way forward is to have the most ironclad laws world-wide to keep the lid on the eugenics with protections for the rest of us (along with an emphasis on research to treat existing and newly merging diseases) to do this right. In this country alone, 40% the population is batshit crazy.

The moment some high profile celebrity or political type designs their kids to fit a Eugenics scheme? Yikes.

Here’s where things are messed up on that purported research. HIV is not untreatable, nor is it an inherited disease. It is not like an ALS, CF, nor Alzeimers. Not only is it not baked into our genes, there will be a vaccine in the not too distant future. So this experiment fails every single ethical standard known to exist. Not only that, HIV is not widely endemic to the Chinese country, so yet again this makes no sense in the context of the disease nor the parents home country.


I would not wish terrible, painful or just unfortunate diseases on anyone, but some of those people changed the world. Who is to say they would do that if they could have had normal as an option. It’s moralistic dilemma that won’t be solved soon, if ever, and while some will be arguing about it for years the rich will just go out and get it done because someone will offer it at a high price no matter what any government or ethics committee has to say about it.

I will say this though, diversity in a species, any species, is important.


Life is messy :(

  1. HIV is treatable, but it still killed nearly a million people globally last year. More than malaria and TB, both of which are also treatable.

  2. Nobody knows when, or if, a vaccine for HIV will be developed. If you contract or die of HIV tomorrow, it no longer matters that a vaccine is right around the corner.

  3. This research is unethical because genetic manipulation of an embryo can have permanent unintended consequences, not because genes are sacred. If we could be absolutely certain that CRISPR was 100% safe, then there would be no ethical dilemma.

  4. The father of the Chinese children has HIV, which is why children were considered at risk. Can’t say I understand the reasoning, but it has nothing to do with the endemic rate of HIV in China.


The majority of those dying of this disease (Africa), I doubt could ever dream of being able to afford custom edited embryos via IVF. CRISPER and protein entrenchment aside, IVF on its own is insanely expensive (at least in the United States).

This set of trials has me optimistic:

While I’m not sure if can be infallible due to the rapidity of HIV to mutate and change its protein coat, I hope it comes through.


There are still plenty of people dying of HIV in the US. About 5,000 last year, roughly as common as deaths from motorcycle accidents.

Also, whether the treatment is affordable has nothing to do with whether the research is ethical. Brain surgery is incredibly expensive, yet is still a major focus of research.


Yes good points. I’m still interested in who’s pushing (backing) this, and why some scientists felt it was worth risking their careers over. But then again, life is cheap in China (if things don’t work out - secondary mutations or ailments - get rid of them like a journalist who asks questions).


There are TV ads running now for a drug that would be taken to help prevent getting HIV. Kinda makes me wonder about the target user. Should everyone take the pill, just those engaged in risky sex practices?

I had a doctor who believed the advantages of statins would one day make them the new fluoride. Is this a drug like that?


You’re referring to PrEP. Typically it targets sex workers and gay men. If you only have safe sex or are in a monogamous relationship, there’s no reason to get it.


I would add it probably includes anyone who is in a sexual relationship with someone who is HIV positive, gay or otherwise.

I’ve seen the ad too. It plays a dozen times every time I watch something on HULU.


I mean, hey, lots of folks think they are until suddenly they learn they’re not!


One of those times I have to look up to see what the fuck thread I’ve wandered into.


You would think they would specifically mention that in the ad.



Did some more research on Dr. He and the more I learn the more concerned I am. He’s actively talking himself up for a Nobel prize, and also owns a biotech company ready to cash in on this. What’s more, in a country where gender is critically important he can promise a specific gender (male) along with supposed disease resistance with the IVF firm he’s paired himself up with.

However, the crisper technique he’s using isn’t quite what I thought at first. He’s simply damaging the CCR5 gene to make it dysfunctional. How those changes turn out in anything hasn’t been tested beyond viable embryos and early births. Don’t know if he bothered to try and match the known kinda safe version of the natural mutation of CCR5 gene in the European community, or if he just did a slash and burn until he found a sequence that messed it up.

They also never took the time to do simian testing to let them develop to see if anything adverse happens (say leukemia or other blood cancers). This is pretty obvious based on the timeline submitted. This leads to why someone in research would do that? One is fear things won’t turn out, two is your need/desire for money outweighs your concern for the patients well-being because maybe you won’t be first to the market. Which is why I think it’s the latter. He knows anyone can do this. It’s not some kind of super special thing he alone figured out. The CCR 5 mutation has been well documented for years, the question has always been what kind of threat does using CRISPER in an embryo pose to a human who has 80 years ahead of them… and then their children? Are the edits he made truly stable? If one of those 3 kids develop cancer, how in the world are they going to know if its environmental or due to crisper?

If this turns out bad, like if 1 of the 3 children ends up with… autism (not caused by crisper). Think of what that would do to the future of this line of research. When autism was never a link to vaccines, made up by a doctor who wanted to make himself rich by making a vaccine alternative (Andrew Wakefield), we still suffer even though it’s been properly smashed under the bus of scientific proof there is no causation.

This dude’s no saint.


They could just be like, Do you like sex?