Connect with us

News

Chinese Scientist Who Created Gene-Edited Babies Likely Boosted Their Intelligence

Published

on

Gene-Edited Babies Intelligence
Like this article? Get the latest from The Mind Unleashed in your inbox. Sign up right here.

When rogue Chinese scientist He Jiankui genetically edited twin babies last year in an attempt to render them immune to HIV, he may have also altered their brains in a manner that would enhance their cognitive abilities, according to researchers familiar with the procedure.

The associate professor at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen scandalized the scientific community when he announced he had used the genetic editing tool CRISPR in hopes of making the girls — named Lulu and Nana — immune to the virus that causes AIDS, earning the reputation of “mad scientist” and “China’s Frankenstein” both at home and abroad.

However, researchers now claim that the CCR5 gene introduced to the girls’ DNA has been linked to enhanced cognition in mice as well as human recovery following a stroke, and could potentially lead to greater performance in school, according to MIT Technology Review.

HIV depends on the CCR5 gene to enter human blood cells, but studies have also shown that removing the gene from mice significantly improves their memory. In humans, when a person is missing at least one copy of the gene, they appear to do better in school, according to a new report in the journal Cell.

It remains unclear whether He Jiankui was aware of the link between CCR5 and cognition, but chances are slim that he was wholly unaware of the potential side effects his dream of HIV-free babies would have.

Don’t break out the champagne glasses to celebrate a human-engineered leap in evolution just yet – it remains too early to tell whether the effect of He’s meddling in the gene pool will have good results or bad.

While some have entertained the idea of a bioengineered, disease-immune and hyper-intelligent race of humans as some outcome of He’s experiments, critics were also quick to point out last year that his reckless toying with genetics could lead to mutations, birth defects, or long-term health consequences for the infants he hacked.

Alcino J. Silva, a neuobiologist at UCLA who uncovered CCR5’s role in memory, told Technology Review:

“The answer is likely yes, it did affect their brains … The simplest interpretation is that those mutations will probably have an impact on cognitive function in the twins.”

The scientist added that the unpredictable outcome of the experiment “is why it should not be done.”

“Could it be conceivable that at one point in the future we could increase the average IQ of the population? I would not be a scientist if I said no,” Silva continued. “The work in mice demonstrates the answer may be yes. But mice are not people. We simply don’t know what the consequences will be in mucking around. We are not ready for it yet.”

In the meantime, He remains a pariah in the scientific community for his apparent disregard for basic technical and ethical principles in what the Chinese government has decried as fraudulent practices in pursuit of “personal fame and gain.

He’s poor ethics were further underscored Wednesday, when Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News reported that his study on the ethics of gene editing was withdrawn by the editors of The CRISPR Journal due to He’s failure to report multiple conflicts of interest, including his financial stake in multiple companies and his sources of funding.

Additionally, He failed to disclose that his research was being applied to actual embryos. Chief editor Rodolphe Barrangou, PhD, explained:

“The authors intentionally hid from us the fact that they were conducting clinical research on germline editing, and that babies had been born … We could not let that breach of trust stand.

The fact that their clinical work is contravening their own criteria is just unacceptable … “It is just unacceptable. You can’t have it both ways. It is important for the journal and the editorial board and the community to act when concerning issues arise and unacceptable work is done.”

Typos, corrections and/or news tips? Email us at [email protected]

Animals

Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida

Published

on

Like this article? Get the latest from The Mind Unleashed in your inbox. Sign up right here.

A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.

In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.

“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.

Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.

Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.

Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.

Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.

However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.

Typos, corrections and/or news tips? Email us at [email protected]

Continue Reading

Animals

Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son

Published

on

Like this article? Get the latest from The Mind Unleashed in your inbox. Sign up right here.

A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.

The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.

The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.

“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.

“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.

The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.

The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.

“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.

The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.

The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.

Typos, corrections and/or news tips? Email us at [email protected]

Continue Reading

News

Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter

Published

on

Like this article? Get the latest from The Mind Unleashed in your inbox. Sign up right here.

The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.

However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.

In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.

It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.

The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.

Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.

The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.

Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.

The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.

The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.

Typos, corrections and/or news tips? Email us at [email protected]

Continue Reading

Trending

The Mind Unleashed