Controversial gene editing of embryos stopped by the Chinese authorities

Controversial gene editing of embryos stopped by the Chinese authorities

Controversial gene editing of embryos stopped by the Chinese authorities

A Chinese researcher, who claimed to have created the world's first gene-edited babies that are resistant to HIV, has been suspended from any scientific activity amid mounting criticism at home and overseas about the controversial experiment, according to media reports.

Hong Kong scientists have warned of far-reaching effects on humans and consequences that will not be seen for several generations after a Chinese scientist claimed he had created the world's first gene-edited babies.

China has always been considered on the forefront of gene-editing technology, bankrolling expensive research projects and boasting less regulation in the field than Western nations. He made the stunning revelation that a mother had given birth to Lulu and Nana, twin girls whose genes had been edited to make them resistant to HIV.

The news shocked the world and aroused widespread criticism, both for its ethics, technical flaws and the necessity of such a procedure to prevent AIDS.

This news was greeted with nearly universal condemnation, with most mainstream scientists and ethicists complaining that He violated established scientific and ethics standards, among other complaints.

According to The Guardian, China's National Health Commission has ordered an investigation into He's claims, while the Shenzhen Health and Family Planning Commission has begun examining the ethics of the study.

A message sent through Ministry of Science and Technology's website wasn't immediately answered.

"For this specific case, I feel proud, actually", the scientist, He Jiankui, said at an global conference on genome editing in Hong Kong.

He, however, declined to reveal the babies' identities, citing China's policy regarding privacy in cases involving HIV/AIDS.

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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.

"The organizing committee concludes that the scientific understanding and technical requirements for clinical practice remain too uncertain and the risks too great to permit clinical trials of germ line editing at this time", the closing statement said.

According to He, a pair of twins that underwent gene editing were recently born.

"We care deeply about the two babies and appeal for the research and formulation of detailed medical and ethical care plans", it said.

Robin Lovell-Badge, a professor of genetics and embryology at the Francis Crick Institute in London who moderated the session, asked a question that he said was on many attendees' minds.

"There's a fairly tight consensus from what is and is not acceptable in genome editing as of now, and He's reported work represents a departure from that", said David R. Liu, professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard University, who has pioneered improving versions of CRISPR.

"This study has been submitted to a scientific journal for review", he said of his self-funded research, without naming the journal.

He Jiankui at the conference in Hong Kong on Wednesday. He's PR representative said He will not accept interview requests from the media at present due to privacy concerns, but that he will release a statement in the days to come.

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.

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