China stops research into gene-editing after 'CRISPR baby'

China stops research into gene-editing after 'CRISPR baby'

"First, I must apologize that this result leaked unexpectedly, taking it away from the community before being presented immediately at a scientific venue and without the peer review process engaged before this conference", said He.

Most other researchers believed it was far too early to progress to that point given the vast ethical questions that arise from having "edited" - like Lulu and Nana, the names He gave the twin baby girls - and "non-edited" humans living side by side.

Before He's talk, Dr. George Daley, Harvard Medical School's dean and one of the conference organizers, warned against a backlash to gene editing because of He's experiment. Critics said He's research was not medically necessary as the risk of HIV could be reduced or prevented with other methods or treatment.

The National Health Commission has already said Prof He's work "seriously violates China's laws, regulations and ethical standards" and would investigate the claims.

This gene-editing surgery was done to protect the girls from future HIV infection, claims the doctor, by removing the portal through which the AIDS virus infects people.

In a joint statement published earlier this week, the Genetics Society of China and the Chinese Society for Stem Cell Research said they "strongly condemn" the project for its "extreme irresponsibility, both scientifically and ethically".

A group of leading scientists gathered in Hong Kong this week for an worldwide conference on gene editing, the ability to rewrite the code of life to try to correct or prevent diseases.

He, who earlier sparked worldwide debate after revealing his unprecedented trial, defended his research at the summit on Wednesday and revealed there was another potential pregnancy of a gene-edited embryo.

More news: PM Imran Khan credits Bushra Bibi for first 100 days of govt

He, according to Reuters, also shrugged off concerns that the research was conducted in secrecy, explaining that he had engaged the scientific community over the past three years.

A Chinese scientist has claimed credit for genetically engineering twins resistant to HIV in a controversial procedure.

Facing a packed auditorium of scientists and members of the media, He also acknowledged that he had not made his university in China aware of the research he was doing.

A medical team's quest to edit the genes of babies has been stopped by the Chinese government.

Nobel laureate David Baltimore called He's work irresponsible.

The university where He works also distanced itself - saying he had been on unpaid leave since February - and called his claims a "serious violation of academic ethics and norms".

The conference moderator, Robin Lovell-Badge, said the summit organisers were unaware of the story until it broke this week.

He, who was educated at Stanford University, said the twins' DNA was modified using CRISPR, a technique which allows scientists to remove and replace a strand with pinpoint precision. Just because the first case may have been a misstep "should in no way, I think, lead us to stick our heads in the sand and not consider the very, very positive aspects that could come forth by a more responsible pathway", Daley said.

Related Articles