Chinese Scientists Suspended After Claims of Creating ‘World’s First Gene-Edited Babies’

30 November, 2018, 01:25 | Author: Joy Garcia
  • He Jiankui

Daley spoke Wednesday at an global conference in Hong Kong, where the Chinese scientist, He Jiankui (HEH JEE-ahn-qway) of Shenzhen, also is scheduled to speak.

A Chinese scientist who claims he helped make the world's first gene-edited babies said Wednesday that a second pregnancy is underway amid increasing worry from leading scientists who question the experiment's ethics.

Gene editing of the human embryo is outlawed in most parts of the world, including China and the US. He said his ultimate goal was to alter the babies' genes in a way that would protect them from future HIV infection.

Southern University of Science and Technology of China (SUSTC) associate professor He Jiankui revealed via a YouTube video on Monday that he and his research team used modified embryos to produce a pair of healthy twin sisters this month.

Chinese scientist He Jiankui speaks at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong.

As if things couldn't get weirder, the university then came out to say the scientist had gone rogue and carried out the study in secret without their knowledge.

"I don't think it has been a transparent process".

The case shows "there has been a failure of self-regulation by the scientific community" and said the conference committee would meet and issue a statement on Thursday about the future of the field, Mr Baltimore added.

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The Shenzen scientist who had trained as a researcher in the USA added that seven embryos were altered with powerful tools, resulting in the birth of twin sisters with modified DNA.

The research "crossed the line of morality and ethics adhered to by the academic community and was shocking and unacceptable", Xu said.

China's vice minister of science and technology, Xu Nanping, told state broadcaster CCTV that his ministry was strongly opposed to the work.

Mr He, a researcher at the Southern University of Science and Technology in the city of Shenzhen, said the woman had given birth to twin girls, known as Lulu and Nana. "I feel proudest, because they had lost hope for life", He said, when challenged by several peers at the conference (live stream below).

But scientists and the Chinese government have denounced the work, and a hospital linked to his research suggested its ethical approval had been forged. The researcher claims to have changed the embryos for seven couples during fertility treatments to disable the CCR5 gene that allows HIV to enter a cell, one pregnancy was announced so far.

He said Wednesday that all the couples involved in his study consented and directed people to his website, where he provided an example of the consent form, which described the study as an "AIDS vaccine development project".

The founder of an HIV support group, reported to be based in Beijing, said on Thursday that he regretted introducing families to He for the trial, according to local media.

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