Chinese baby-gene editing scientist 'proud of his work'

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

Chinese professor He Jiankui, the scientist who made global headlines after claiming to have created the first gene-edited babies, finally addressed the controversy during a genome summit in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

He also thanked his university, the Southern University of Science and Technology in China, but noted that they were "unaware of the study's conduct".

He reportedly told participating couples that the worse-case scenario could be that the "gene scalpel" (CRISPR-Cas9 technique) missed its target: the CCR5 protein might not link with the main human HIV receptor, and hence the babies would not be immune to the virus.

"I think there has been a failure of self-regulation by the scientific community because of the lack of transparency", Baltimore said. Instead they stress the importance of employing a rigorous ethical framework to any research done on editing human life.

It was unclear whether the pregnancy had ended or not.

The suspension follows worldwide condemnation from scientists who maintain that Dr He's conduct was unethical. "The study has been submitted to a scientific journal for review", he added. This indicates that the research of gene editing in China not only has a promising potential, but is also responding to the public's needs, stated Liang Chen, a professor at Sun Yat-Sen University.

Scientists and the Chinese government have denounced He's work, and a hospital linked to his research suggested its ethical approval had been forged.

CRISPR-Cas9 is a technology that allows scientists to essentially cut-and-paste DNA, raising hope of genetic fixes for disease.

At the last meeting of the summit in 2015, scientists concluded by saying that it would be "irresponsible" to proceed until the safety concerns had been thoroughly vetted and a societal consensus had developed.

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The Chinese Society for Cell Biology on Tuesday strongly condemned any application of gene editing on human embryos for reproductive purposes and said that it was against the law and medical ethics of China.

The world's first gene-edited babies were announced early this week not in a scientific publication or at a conference, but in news reports. "We don't know. He said he confirmed that essentially they'd done the hormone test for whether or not the woman was pregnant".

He explained that eight couples - comprised of HIV-positive fathers and HIV-negative mothers - had signed up voluntarily for the experiment; one couple later dropped out. Bioengineering Professor Michael Deem, who was the scientist's adviser when he studied in the U.S., toldAP that he "absolutely" thinks the participants of the trials were fully aware of the risks involved.

At the conference, He failed or refused to answer many questions including who paid for his work, how he ensured that participants understood potential risks and benefits, and why he kept his work secret until after it was done.

Baltimore added, "I don't think it has been a transparent process".

"The whole scientific and medical community believes this happened too early, we simply have no idea what future risks there may be", he said.

So far the tool has only been used on adults to treat deadly diseases, and the changes only affected that person.

He concluded his talk by mentioning plans to monitor the twins' health for the next 18 years.

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