China’s genetically-modified twins may have superhuman brain power

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Lulu and Nana were born last year following a top-secret project that sparked controversy around the world when it was revealed.

The children’s genes were modified in a lab so that both youngsters would be resistant to contracting HIV, which is the virus that causes AIDS.


But it now appears the cutting-edge experiment may have had an unintended side effect – super enhanced memory and cognition abilities.

Dr Jiankui He is the biophysics researcher who used the CRISPR gene editing technique to remove the HIV-allowing CCR5 gene from the twins’ DNA.

Research has shown that removing the CCR5 gene in mice has been proven to make them far more intellectually advanced.

Alcino J. Silva, a neurobiologist at UCLA, explained to the MIT 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.”

However, experts have pointed out that it will be years before it is clear the twins have got enhanced brain abilities.

But if they do, it is feared that countries could compete to create superhuman with unnatural levels of cognitive potential.

Dr Silva added: “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’. 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.”



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