CRISPR babies may have had brains altered

The gene-editing scandal from Chinese scientist He Jiankui's genetic modification on the embryos of twin girls could have another twist.

What's new: Antonio Regalado reports in the MIT Technology Review that Chinese scientist He's experiment may have enhanced their ability to learn and form memories. Per Tech Review...

The goal was to make the girls immune to infection by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Now, new research shows that the same alteration introduced into the girls’ DNA, to a gene called CCR5, not only makes mice smarter but also improves human brain recovery after stroke, and could be linked to greater success in school.
“The answer is likely yes, it did affect their brains,” says Alcino J. Silva, a neurobiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. Silva’s lab has been uncovering a major new role for the CCR5 gene in memory formation and the brain’s ability to form new connections. 

Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic conducts historic 2nd test flight

Crew members on board the VSS Unity as the space craft reaches the edge of space.
Three crew members aboard the VSS Unity on Feb. 22, 2018. Photo: Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic, the space tourism company founded by billionaire Richard Branson, conducted a second successful test flight of its VSS Unity spacecraft in the skies above Mojave, California on Friday morning and this one made history.

Why it matters: The flight brings the company one step closer to realizing its vision of carrying tourists to space for tickets that reportedly cost up to $250,000 a piece. The test flight on Friday included a third passenger, Beth Moses, who is the company's chief astronaut instructor and a micro-gravity researcher. She became the first passenger to reach space aboard a commercial space craft.

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