The idea of scientist Denis Rebrikov is simple: he wants to use the CRISPR genetic editing technique to create babies with the edited DNA. A few weeks ago this Russian biologist told Nature that he planned to genetically edit human embryos that he would then carry out. To date, only one person, the Chinese scientist He Jiankui, has openly produced babies with genetic editions. The supposed objective was to prevent babies from inheriting HIV from their parents.
In another recent interview, Rebrikov pointed out that there are five couples willing to let him genetically edit his embryos for a different reason: to avoid inheriting deafness from his parents, all of them with mutations in the GJB2 gene. When two people with these mutations have children, the child will be born deaf.
By using CRISPR to edit a copy of the GJB2 gene, Rebrikov believes that he can grant parents the desire to have a biological child who is not deaf. Unlike He, who acted without first consulting the Chinese authorities, Rebrikov’s plans are to communicate it to the Russian government to ask for permission before starting his controversial experiment.