Claim of gene-edited baby sparks local outrage

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He revealed that the twin girls - known as "Lulu" and "Nana" - were "born normal and healthy", adding that there were plans to monitor the twins over the next 18 years.

The National Health Commission has ordered local officials in Guangdong province to investigate He's actions, and his employer, Southern University of Science and Technology, is investigating as well. "Many of them thought the research gave them a chance to have babies who do not have the risk of getting HIV".

The hospital claimed to have approved Dr.

The Shenzhen Health and Family Planning Commission denounced the legitimacy of the hospital ethics committee and the review process that approved the application.

There is no independent confirmation of He's claim and he has not yet published in any scientific journal where it would be vetted by experts. According to Feng Zhang, a molecular biologist from the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the results of the trials were not "handled in a transparent way". He did not report to the school and the department of biology, and the school and the biology department did not know about it.


State-run news agency Xinhua reported on Wednesday that the Chinese Union of Life Science Societies, an umbrella of 22 national-level associations, said that it strongly opposed research that violated the spirit of science and ethics, and that Dr He's case had "severely disturbed the order of scientific research and seriously damaged China's global reputation in the life science field".

His claims, which have caused widespread outrage, have yet to be independently verified. The parents of the allegedly gene-edited babies declined to be interviewed or identified. If society treats gene editing like vaccinations, then could all embryos be edited to prevent as many diseases as possible? When he saw He four or five weeks ago, He did not say he had tried or achieved pregnancy with edited embryos but "I strongly suspected" it, Hurlbut said. It is unknown whether the procedure is safe or, if used in pregnancy, whether it can have unintended consequences for the babies later in life or for future generations. However, if his announcement is true, this would be the first time the technique has been used to alter the genes in unborn humans. "Directly experimenting on human is nothing but insane ... as soon as a living human is produced, no one could predict what kind of impact it will bring, as the modified inheritable substance will inevitably blend into human genome pool", they wrote, adding that the trial is a "huge blow" to the reputation of Chinese biomedical research.

"It is extremely unfair to the vast majority of Chinese scholars who are diligent in scientific research and innovation".

"The human genome belongs to all of us and in some sense we all get to have a say", Baylis added.

One of the ethical guidelines involved in gene editing is restricting its use to only addressing medical needs which can not be effectively treated through other means.


Associate Professor He's research focuses on genome sequencing technology, bioinformatics and genome editing, according to his biography on the summit's website.

Au said going from abandoned human embryos to humans involved other steps in between, like live animal models of gene editing. The risk of transmission of HIV for these couples would have been negligible, and there are well-established ways to prevent HIV transmission to the offspring of HIV-positive couples.

As for any children that were conceived through the project, He said he would provide health insurance coverage for them and follow-up with them until they reach 18 or longer if they agree as adults. His team targeted a specific gene, CCR5, which plays a role in HIV's spread to healthy cells.

China's state-run People's Daily published an online article about it on Monday but later removed the story. "Yes", Stat quoted Church as saying.

Many fear that editing human embryos will create a slippery slope to eugenics.


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