Chinese doctor who made gene-edited babies acted on his own

China Criminalized CRISPR Gene Editing on Babies and He Jiankui Might Face Punishment


The Chinese scientist who claimed to have made world's first genetically edited baby that is immune to HIV infection had "illegally conducted the research in pursuit of personal fame and gain", Chinese authorities said Monday.

Many scholars pointed to a 2003 guideline that bans altered human embryos from being implanted for the goal of reproduction, and says altered embryos can not be developed for more than 14 days.

The scientist was educated at Stanford University in the United States and recruited back to China as part of Beijing's "Thousand Talents Plan" to reverse brain drain, according to a copy of He's resume published on the website of the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) in Shenzhen. "Effective immediately, SUSTech will rescind the work contract with Dr. Jiankui He and terminate any of his teaching and research activities at SUSTech", according to the school's statement.

The scientific community was shocked previous year after a researcher from Shenzhen He Jiankui announced in an interview with the AP news agency that he had successfully altered the genes of twin girls born in November, in order to prevent them from contracting HIV.

Investigators in Guangdong province will send suspects to the police as well as conduct visits to the parents of the twin babies and the pregnant volunteer, according to the government guidelines, the news report said without elaborating.

The scientific community is anxious that genome-editing may cause harm not only to individuals but also to future generations that inherit these same alterations. "We have to be very, very careful, and the working group will do that".

"This behavior seriously violates ethics and the integrity of scientific research, is in serious violation of relevant national regulations, and creates a pernicious influence at home and overseas", a report by Chinese state news agency Xinhua stated.

He used gene-editing technology known as CRISPR (short for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats). Between March 2017 and November 2018, He recruited eight volunteer couples in the experiment by "forging" ethical review documents, the report said.

Playing God: What happens when everyone can change their DNA?

Only one of the twin girls, however, has immunity against the HIV virus, He said.

Hundreds of Chinese and worldwide scientists condemned He and said the use of gene-editing on human embryos for reproductive purposes was unethical.

A week or so after the news broke of He's work, "he was calm, he was thoughtful", and "was thinking about what he should have done differently", Hurlbut said. He spent long hours talking with people during the investigation.

William Hurlburt, a bioethicist from Stanford University told the Guardian that he had met Dr.

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