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Needs Plan Acceptance

Whether or not a Russian researcher forges ahead with his plan to edit the genomes of embryos may depend upon Russian President Vladimir Putin, Bloomberg reports.

Denis Rebrikov from the Kulakov National Medical Research Center for Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Perinatology and the Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University announced in June that he planned to edit the CCR5 gene of embryos, much as He Jiankui reported he did last November. Rebrikov, though, switched gears and said in July that, rather than targeting the CCR5 gene, he was instead going to edit the GJB2 gene with embryos from deaf couples.

According to Bloomberg, top geneticists in Russia met to discuss Rebrikov's plan along with Maria Vorontsova, an endocrinologist and Putin's oldest daughter. (Bloomberg notes that the Kremlin has never publicly confirmed Vorontsova is Putin's daughter.) It says they wanted to present both arguments in favor and against the plan to her.

Rebrikov tells Bloomberg that three issues need to be addressed before he can proceed: he needs to show the benefits outweigh the risks and there needs to be both political will and social acceptance. Those two, Bloomberg writes, "are directly correlated in Russia and depend on Putin."