Chinese scientist He Jiankui defends 'world's first gene-edited babies'

Chinese officials and scientists have denounced the claims of a geneticist who said he had created the first gene-edited babies. "This suggests that the research of gene editing in China not only has a promising potential, but also is responding to the public's needs".

"Somebody jumps out ahead, it scares everybody who advocates for the science", Mr. Cole-Turner told The Times.

The man, He Jiankui, made the claims ahead of a genetic technology conference, and his alleged work drew swift criticism from many other medical researchers who find human genetic modification to be both unsafe and unethical. No known diseases. Gene editing itself is experimental and is still associated with off-target mutations, capable of causing genetic problems early and later in life, including the development of cancer.

"If this is a false report, it is scientific misconduct and deeply irresponsible", Robert Winston, emeritus professor of fertility studies and professor of science and society at Imperial College London, tells BBC News.

According to CNN, the Shenzhen Health and Family Planning Commission confirmed that an investigation has been launched on Monday to "verify the authenticity of the ethical review of the research reported by media". In the US, the process is only permitted for lab research.

Chinese scientist He Jiankui (JEE-ahn-qway) spoke earlier at the conference in Hong Kong about the work he said led to the births this month.

Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said: "Genetic editing technology is far from mature and could have unforeseen consequences for the subjects". Editing sperm or embryos is different - the changes can be inherited.

"The application of editing here was not for that objective", he told The Times. He in a YouTube video.

He and his colleagues say they used CRISPR to make changes in one-day-old embryos in a gene called CCR5.

The identities of the twin girls born in China and their parents were kept secret for their privacy, Mr. "That should be banned", He said in one of the videos.

According to Reuters, Hong Kong-listed Harmonicare Medical Holdings has issued a statement saying the signatures on the form posted online are suspected of having been forged and that "no relevant meeting of the Medical Ethics Committee of the hospital, in fact, took place". Even if the process goes smoothly, people with deficiencies in CCR5 are more susceptible to conditions like West Nile Virus and Japanese encephalitis. "I feel proudest", He said, when challenged by several peers at the conference.

Jennifer Doudna, a biochemist at the University of California, Berkeley, helped discover CRISPR and served as a creator for the summit.

This move has triggered a flurry of backlash and concern in the scientific community.

Dr He Jiankui revealed the possible pregnancy while making his first public comments about his scandal-hit work at an global conference in Hong Kong.

The CRISPR tool is a recently developed tool for adding necessary genes or disabling harmful ones to treat diseases in adults, though the USA only allows it to be used in lab research.

"I must apologise that this result was leaked unexpectedly", he said. However, many countries have less stringent rules.

A notice from Shenzhen's medical ethics authority said that all medical organisations must establish an ethics review committee before undertaking biomedical research concerning humans, and the ethics board of the hospital involved had not completed its registration as required.

The commission has started an ethics investigation and will release the results to the public, it said. "I personally don't think it was medically necessary". Granted, cloning from an adult cell may still be unlikely, but they could create a "twin" for a baby I'm sure.

Mr. He received strong support from one of the leading figures in genetic sequencing.

According to the South China Morning Post, the letter was published on social media on late Monday and was signed by scientists at some of China's leading research universities, such as Peking University and Tsinghua, as well as overseas institutions, including Stanford in the U.S. and Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research. Look back to the 1970s with Louise Brown.

  • Carolyn Briggs