Category Archives: CRISPR

Lulu and Nana and Scott

Please note that the original version of this post on CRISPR babies Lulu and Nana was written in 2018. It can be read below this update. Also see the wiki on the “He Jiankui Affair“. Our interest in CRISPR gene editing is focused on its potential use to cure hair loss.

Update: February 5, 2023 — Scientist who edited babies’ genes says he acted too quickly. And his ghost is still haunting geneticists at conferences.

Update: February 1, 2023

Dr. He Jiankui is out of Prison

Dr. He Jiankui joined Twitter a few months ago after coming out of prison. He just gave an encouraging update on Lulu and Nana that I have embedded below. I hope this is not a fake account! So far, it sounds legitimate. Mr. Jiankui wants to resume experimenting in the lab. Also, whatever happened to Scott (see bottom half of this post)?

Happy New Year from his family.

November 26, 2018

Lulu and Nana

Huge news from China, where scientists claim to have used CRISPR/Cas9 to genetically modify human babies for the first time in history. The two female babies are named Lulu and Nana. Not sure what to think about the ethics of all this as yet, but I like what Dr. Jiankui He has to say about genes not defining you:

“Our DNA does not predetermine our purpose or what we could achieve. We flourish from our own hard work, nutrition, and support from society and our loved ones. Whatever our genes may be, we are equal in dignity and potential.”

In this particular case, the volunteer fathers all have HIV and they want to make sure that their progeny do not suffer from the terrible disease of AIDS. One article on this tory is titled: Chinese scientists are creating CRISPR babies. The scientists plan is to eliminate a gene called CCR5, so as to ensure that the human offspring are then resistant to HIV (as well as smallpox and cholera).

Note that some media reports are placing doubt on the accuracy of these claims and the methodology used.

Update: Dr. George Church seems to think that this is for real:

“I have been in contact with the Shenzhen team and have seen the data. The sequencing assays used are generally unambiguous, especially when done in multiple cell types at different developmental stages and in two children. Is the genie really out of the bottle? Yes.”

First Gene Edited Babies Claimed in China

The below video (and associated story) from the He Lab’s YouTube channel has caused much global controversy.

November 24, 2018

Scott Tries a New Hair System

I was thinking of adding Scott’s latest video about his new hair system to my original lengthy post on his hair system. However, there are already three other videos on there, including a before one. So I am adding it below. I like this hair system better than the first one.

DIY Genetic Engineering to Cure Hair Loss

For the past five years, the revolutionary CRISP/Cas9 gene editing technique has caused much excitement as well as trepidation all across the scientific universe. Both emotions reached a new crescendo two months ago, when a renegade Chinese scientist genetically edited human babies for the first time ever using CRISPR technology. Aldous Huxley’s 1932 book “Brave New World” was truly ahead of its time.

Update: March 10, 2023 — An excellent new video on CRISPR gene editing to cure hair loss:

Gene Editing (Modification) versus Gene Therapy

Gene editing (aka gene modification aka genetic engineering) involves alteration of existing genes. This can in the future perhaps enable humans to develop various superman-like capabilities. In contrast, gene therapy is the process of replacing existing defective genes with new normal and healthy ones. Having said that, gene therapy is starting to incorporate some of the tools of gene modification.

In 2017, CRISPR based gene editing was performed in an adult human for for the first time in the US. Thereafter, both the US and Europe started gene editing clinical trials in 2018.

Genetic therapy treatment has a much longer history, with 2,335 gene therapy clinical trials having been undertaken in close to 40 countries between 1989 and 2015.

DIY Gene Modification for Hair Loss

A number of do-it-yourself (DIY) self-experimenters in various countries have been experimenting with editing their own genes and DNA in recent years. None have as yet announced their doing this for hair growth or hair loss prevention purposes. Some (or even all) might obviously be frauds trying to get fame and make money from product sales.

At the same time, there could very well be hundreds of others by now who are DIY modifying their genes without publicizing it anywhere. Note that while most self-experimenters are undergoing gene therapy treatments, some are  trying out the more difficult gene modification procedures. There are various online biohacking and genetic engineering groups where you can read about strategies and testimonials.

Sooner or later, it is inevitable that someone will try to replace or modify the genes responsible for hair loss if such genes can be fully categorized; or cut out the gene responsible for dihydrotestosterone (DHT), assuming that gene is not responsible for anything else important; or cut out the gene responsible for hair being sensitive to the ravages of DHT; or any other such iterations.

Interestingly, in 2016, a well respected Chinese scientist named Dr. Chunyu Han claimed to have discovered a gene editing technique to cure hair loss. For some reason, he was really into the hair loss aspect despite not being bald himself. However, Mr. Han has since been discredited.

Josiah Zaynor

Perhaps the most famous of these DIY genetic biohackers is Josiah Zaynor. In 2017, he supposedly used CRISPR to knock out the myostatin gene in himself. A successful outcome would lead to him becoming significantly more muscular, since myostatin inhibits muscle growth. However, this attempt did not succeed. Mr. Zaynor later had some regrets about his self-experiment. Note the also own a company that sells do-it-yourself Crispr bacterial gene modification kits.

Myostatin gene mutation muscular dogs
A muscular dog without the myostatin gene.

If a renegade biohacker ever does succeed in knocking out myostatin via any kind of gene modification technique and then also becomes overly muscular, watch out. At present, genes, epigenetics and genetic interplay are all way too complex by the standards of our current understanding.

Perhaps self-experimenters, artificial intelligence, big data analytics/bioinformatics, and renegade Chinese scientists will all combine to speed up our ultimate mastery of human biology.

Liz Parrish

Liz Parrish needs no introduction. I have covered her on this blog a few times. She supposedly underwent two gene therapies in 2015 to try to reverse her aging. One of the therapies was to increase her telomere length and the other was to increase her muscle mass.

In her latest blog update from 2018, she claims that her telomere length has increased from 6.71 kb in 2015 to 8.12 kb in 2018. Make sure to read my post on telomerase activation and hair growth. She also points out that this telomere length improvement was shown in her white blood cells. But she does not yet know if this is happening in all her body’s cells.

Belgian Blue Cattle Myostatin Mutation
Belgian Blue muscular cattle with myostatin mutation.

Moreover, Ms. Parrish claims that her body’s muscle composition also improved after her 2015 procedure, and her muscle mass remains greater to this day. I would be curious to know if she has changed her diet and exercise regimen in any way since 2015.

Tristan Roberts

In 2017, Tristan Roberts self-injected himself with a gene therapy to treat his HIV. Story here. He provided an update in 2018, and aims to make a second version of the gene therapy without using any bacterial DNA.