Fragments of an interview with Russian biologist Denis Rebrikov, who was going to edit the genome of the human embryo, appeared in several foreign media outlets. Like the pioneer in this direction, the Chinese geneticist He Jiangkui, he is motivated not by vanity, but by a desire to help people. Rebrikov said that he had already found five married couples with congenital deafness who agree to the intervention so that their children are born with hearing.
If the details are to be believed, the case is perfect for the task of editing the genome of the embryo. The deafness of each of the potential parents is due to the GJB2 gene, therefore, with a combination of the genotypes of the father and mother, the child has a 100% chance of being born deaf. It is relatively easy to use the CRISPR tool to edit this gene, thereby diametrically changing the situation. And there is no other way to solve the problem.
Moreover, in contrast to Zengkui's desire to provide contradictory protection against HIV to the unborn child, in this case everything is extremely simple and logical. In addition, Rebrikov does not intend to keep everything secret, on the contrary, he plans to submit an official request to the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation in a few weeks, after preparing the documentation. To obtain not only permission, but also approval, as well as assistance in organizing a procedure that has every chance of becoming the first legal case of editing the human genome in history.
Although Rebrikov's idea seems to be good, it was not without opponents. These are the people who do not consider deafness to be a disease or a problem when it comes to congenital ailment. Formally, such children are not deprived of anything, because they did not have hearing, their life will pass in a world without sounds, but still it can be considered full. And if we are to edit the human genome, then only with the aim of saving a terminally ill child, when everything is really at stake.