China reportedly halts research on gene-edited babies

Chinese Scientist Claims He's Created World's First Gene-Edited Babies - D-brief

China Claims First Genetically Edited Babies

There has been wide condemnation of the unproven claim by He, who appeared this week at an worldwide conference on gene editing in Hong Kong.

The twin girls, identified by the aliases Lulu and Nana to hide their identities, were said to have been born a few weeks ago in a hospital in Shenzhen, southern China.

There is no independent confirmation of Mr He's claim and he has not yet published in any scientific journal where his work would be vetted by experts. The experiment prompted a global outcry over its ethical limits.

Concerns include the possibility that editing a gene to favor resistance to one disease may leave the person open to infection for another. This kind of work is now banned in many countries as the DNA changes can pass to future generations and possibly risks harming other genes.

In this October 10, 2018 photo, He Jiankui speaks during an interview at a laboratory in Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong province. He has said the parents involved declined to be identified or interviewed, and he would not say where they live or where the work was done.

Xi said genetically engineering the DNA of twin girls so they would not develop HIV breached scientific ethics, adding that gene-editing of human embryos for reproduction purposes was "explicitly banned" in China.

"My original thinking was based on the survey of the United States. or the British ethics statement or the Chinese study that gave us the signal that the majority of the public is supporting the use of human genome editing for treatment, including HIV prevention", He said.

The scientists made clear their strong opposition and fierce condemnation of such research. "Society will decide what to do next", he said. He, who has reportedly been suspended from his post at the Southern University of Science and Technology since February of this year, knows the stances of his many peers and did it anyway.

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Today the Southern University said it was "deeply shocked" by the reports and was seeking clarification from He. But he remains an employee and still works in the laboratory.

The National Health Commission has ordered local officials to investigate his actions.

"Not following these guidelines would be an irresponsible act", he added.

In this October 9, 2018 photo, a microplate containing embryos that have been injected with Cas9 protein and PCSK9 sgRNA is seen in a laboratory in Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong province.

He and his team allegedly disabled a gene which makes a protein that makes it possible for HIV to infect people's cells, potentially making these babies resistant to HIV.

He claims that he used a tool known as CRISPR-cas9, which can insert or deactivate certain genes. Editing sperm, eggs or embryos is different because such changes can be passed down.

Gene editing technology is revolutionising biology - and now twin human baby girls may be a living part of this story. It also emphasized that its members believe germline editing is still too risky to be done at this time. "If true, this experiment is monstrous", he told Reuters.

Harvard's George Church told Stat News that he has been in contact with He's team and has seen the experimental data. A spokesperson for Harmonicare said the losses could be attributed to fears over new, stricter regulation from the Chinese government. Hai Do was the editor.

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