First gene-edited babies at early death risk: study

21% increase in mortality in later life

June 09, 2019 11:08 pm | Updated 11:08 pm IST - Los Angeles

The first babies whose genes were reportedly altered to help them fend off HIV infection are more likely to die younger, says a study.

According to an analysis by scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, the genetic mutation that a Chinese scientist attempted to create in twin babies born last year is associated with a 21% increase in mortality in later life. The researchers scanned more than 4,00,000 genomes and associated health records contained in a British database, U.K. Biobank, and found that people who had two mutated copies of the gene had a significantly higher death rate between ages 41 and 78, than those with one or no copies.

Previous studies associated two mutated copies of the gene, CCR5, with a fourfold increase in the death rate after influenza infection, and the higher mortality rate to susceptibility to death from the flu. But the researchers said there could be any number of explanations, since the protein that CCR5 codes for is involved in many functions.

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