Chinese scientist He Jiankui speaks at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong on November 28, 2018. Organisers of the conference were upended by He's gene-edited baby revelations. Photo: AFP
A file photo shows Chinese scientist He Jiankui speaking at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong on November 28, 2018. Photo: AFP

A scientific journal published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the twin girls, Lulu and Nana, born in China after their genes were altered by a Chinese biologist to be immune to HIV/AIDS, could also have higher intelligence quotients and better memory than their peers.

He Jiankui, who was with the Shenzhen-based Southern University of Science and Technology when he carried out his controversial and morally questionable human embryo gene-editing experiments, could have inadvertently altered cognitive functions of the twin babies when he used the CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) technique to deactivate the CCR5 gene that allowed HIV to infect human cells, according to the MIT Technology Review.

CCR5 is a protein on the surface of white blood cells that is involved in the immune system as it acts as a receptor for chemokines. Recent research indicates that CCR5 is linked to deficits in learning and memory and is a powerful suppressor of neuronal plasticity, learning and memory.

Previous experiments on lab rats showed the removal of the CCR5 gene led to significant improvement in their memory.

It is believed that decreasing the function of CCR5 increases long-term potentiation as well as hippocampus-dependent memory in mice, while neuronal CCR5 over-expression causes memory deficits.

Neurobiologist Alcino Silva, with the University of California, Los Angeles, who co-authored a 2016 study that found CCR5 was linked to deficits in learning and memory, said He’s gene editing likely affected the babies’ brains, though the exact effect was impossible to predict, reported the South China Morning Post.

New research on the CCR5 gene published earlier this month in the scientific journal Cell, co-authored by Silva, found links between the gene and academic performance.

He is said to have been locked up in a hotel room in Shenzhen in the wake of the international backlash after he revealed news at the end of last year of the birth of the world’s first gene-edited babies. The Chinese authorities have vowed to step up scrutiny of human gene activities to make sure they conform to laws and bio-ethical norms, and to hold violators accountable.

He reportedly forged ethical review papers in the process of his experiment, which involved recruiting eight couples, resulting in two pregnancies. A third gene-edited fetus is being carried by another woman, while the twin girls are being kept under medical observation in an undisclosed location by the Guangdong provincial government.

Read more: Gene-edited twins ‘deserve normal life but need follow-ups’

Join the Conversation


  1. I absolutely love your website.. Great colors & theme. Did
    you create this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as I’m hoping to
    create my own blog and would love to find out where you got this from or what the theme is named.
    Many thanks!

  2. Sweet blog! I found it while browsing on Yahoo News.
    Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to
    get there! Many thanks

  3. Your style is so unique compared to other people I’ve read stuff from.
    I appreciate you for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this web site.

  4. I blog often and I genuinely thank you for your content.
    This great article has truly peaked my interest.
    I am going to bookmark your blog and keep checking for new details about once a week.
    I opted in for your RSS feed as well.

  5. Greetings from Colorado! I’m bored at work so I decided to check out your site on my
    iphone during lunch break. I really like the info you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.
    I’m surprised at how fast your blog loaded on my phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G ..
    Anyhow, awesome blog!

  6. Pretty nice post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to mention that
    I have truly loved surfing around your blog posts.
    In any case I will be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write once more very soon!

  7. Wonderful blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo
    News. Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo
    News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!

  8. Do you have a spam problem on this blog; I also am a blogger, and I was
    wanting to know your situation; we have created
    some nice practices and we are looking to exchange solutions with others, please shoot me an email if interested.

  9. “I always knew I was meant to be working in art, I just never knew how. In school, was so confused and always switched my majors around. In 2015, I decided to take a break from school to help out at home and that’s when I discovered my passion for fashion illustration. I drew/a> an illustration of Jhene Aiko and she liked it on Instagram. It kind of grew from there.”

  10. This is really interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger. I have joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your wonderful post. Also, I have shared your web site in my social networks!

  11. Greetings! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which blog platform
    are you using for this site? I’m getting fed up of Wordpress because I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking at options for another platform.
    I would be great if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  12. I’m just writing to let you understand of the superb encounter my wife’s princess gained reading yuor web blog. She discovered some details, which included what it is like to have a great giving character to make the rest easily thoroughly grasp several impossible things. You truly exceeded my expected results. Many thanks for providing those practical, trustworthy, revealing and in addition unique guidance on your topic to Emily.

  13. Дорогие МУЖЧИНЫ и досуги Может быть анкета отключена ласковая значит не работаю. Люблю порядочных и вежлитых мужчин. Может быть не получается приехать ласковая предупреждайте ласковая пожалуйста ласковая заранее. Спасибо за внимание. Жду ваших звонков.

  14. Hiya, I’m really glad I have found this info. Today bloggers publish just about gossip and internet stuff and this is really annoying. A good blog with interesting content, this is what I need. Thanks for making this web site, and I’ll be visiting again. Do you do newsletters by email?

Leave a comment