China orders halt to baby gene-editing activities

China orders halt to baby gene-editing activities

China orders halt to baby gene-editing activities

Organisers of the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing denounced He's "unexpected and deeply disturbing" claim that human embryos had been edited and implanted, and called for closer supervision of the field at the conclusion of the conference on Thursday.

He Jiankui (JEE-ahn-qway) of Shenzhen detailed the work that he said led to the births earlier this month of twin girls whose DNA he altered when they were conceived.

And he insisted that the parents of the twins and seven other couples who had participated in his research were fully informed of the risks involved, and that they understood what was being done to their embryos. However, his work has not been verified.

However they added that there were too many scientific and technical uncertainties to permit clinical trials at this stage. Among the concerns are his lack of transparency and questions of whether his patients properly consented. He has been on leave from the university since February, and the school said in a statement it was unaware of his work in humans and condemned it.

He said he had funded the experiment himself and confirmed his university had not been aware of it. In the video, He declined further comment until presenting his findings to a bustling auditorium filled with journalists and camera crews at a Hong Kong scientific conference on Wednesday, after fallout and worldwide outrage over what some have called a "designer baby" experiment.

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.

All couples he recruited for this study had an HIV-positive father, and a non-infected mother.

The conference leader called Mr He's experiments "irresponsible", and said it provided evidence that the scientific community had failed to regulate itself to prevent premature efforts to alter human DNA.

"Even if the modifications are verified, the procedure was irresponsible and failed to conform with worldwide norms", the organizing committee of the Second global Summit on Human Genome Editing, being held in Hong Kong this week, said in a statement.

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"I must apologise this result was leaked unexpectedly", he said of the apparent breakthrough.

Why is it this controversial?

The Chinese Union of Life Science Societies, with 22 national-level societies as its members, said in a statement that the case of the claimed "genetically edited babies" breached ethics and morality as well as related regulations.

Gene editing could potentially help avoid heritable diseases by deleting or changing troublesome coding in embryos.

Prof He's recent claims were widely criticised by other scientists.

A project claiming to have produced the world's first gene-edited babies has been stopped by the Chinese government, which is declaring the work of scientist He Jiankui as being both unlawful and unethical, according to the Associated Press.

"If true, this experiment is monstrous".

Instead of altering a gene, they turned off a genetic instruction essential for early embryo development to see how that affected growth.

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