A new study led by UCLA researchers has fuelled further concerns over the controversial gene-editing experiment that was performed in China last year, News Medical reports.
The study suggests that the genetic changes introduced to make two baby girls resistant to HIV may have also enhanced their cognition and memory.
In the study, He Jiankui (Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen) and colleagues used the CRISPR gene-editing tool to delete CCR5 from human embryos, some of which were then used later in IVF procedures. The experiment has since been widely criticized for being irresponsible and He is being investigated in China.
As reported in the journal Cell, Alcino Silva and colleagues have now looked at the role CCR5 plays in neuronal recovery following stroke and traumatic brain injury.
CCR5 is the gene that codes for the receptor HIV needs to enter human immune cells. The findings of the new study provide evidence that CCR5 is also a suppressor of memories and synaptic connections.
According to the authors, people who lack the CCR5 gene recover more quickly from strokes and those who lack at least one copy of the gene seem to go further in education, potentially implying a role in intelligence.