Health Care

Chinese researcher claims to have made the first CRISPR-edited babies

Chinese researcher claims to have made the first CRISPR-edited babies”

Audience members applauded as the Stanford and Rice University trained physicist took the stage at the International Summit on Human Gene Editing in Hong Kong Wednesday.

"This study has been submitted to a scientific journal for review". Nor did he say when the results might be published.

Southern University of Science and Technology, in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, had earlier distanced itself from He, saying he had been on unpaid leave since February and had "seriously violated academic ethics and codes of conduct".

"I think there has been a failure of self-regulation by the scientific community because of the lack of transparency", Baltimore said. The genetic father is said to be HIV-positive. "What was the unmet medical need for these patients in particular?"

"It would be really unfortunate.to have the world looking at the first two genome-edited children because think of the pressure that's going to put them under", said Lovell-Badge.

"For this specific case, I feel proud".

John Christodoulou, chair of genomic medicine at the University of Melbourne, said it seemed the research had "bypassed the usual ethical regulatory processes". "Unless he starts to engage in the scientific process, it will get worse and worse", Porteus added.

While there are no laws or regulations in China forbidding the creation of genome-edited children, such practice is widely condemned by the worldwide scientific community.

Despite the ongoing backlash, the man at the center of the storm says he stands by his experiment, which he argues is only meant to help people. Several other couples with HIV-positive men are participating in the experiment, but the birth of Lulu and Nana is the only one reported so far. All of the men in the project had HIV, the women did not. 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. The health of both children would be monitored for the next 18 years.

China's Genetics Society and the Chinese Society for Stem Cell Research said in a statement that Dr He had acted as an "individual" and his work posed "tremendous safety risks for the research subjects".

The issue of editing human DNA is highly controversial, and in many countries is tightly controlled.

Gene editing is a potential fix for heritable diseases but it is extremely controversial because the changes would be passed down to future generations and could eventually affect the entire gene pool.

But he asserted that he had not been overly secretive about his work, saying that he had presented preliminary aspects of it at conferences and consulted with scientists in the United States and elsewhere. He is now under investigation by his university, the Chinese government and the hospital he claims gave him ethical approval for the trial. Soon after, he was peppered with questions, many of which he appeared unable or unwilling to answer.

"The technology is not mature enough", Carol said.

Maddison is skeptical as to whether He knows enough about CCR5. "This is a red line", one conference attendee told He.

However, Robin Lovell-Badge, the forum moderator and a senior group leader at the Francis Crick Institute, pointed out to He that a different study had been done showing that adjustment of the CCR5 gene enhanced cognitive abilities.

Lovell-Badge said he was inclined to believe that He had altered the babies' DNA, but said the scientist needed to show proof of it.

A Chinese scientist at the centre of a controversy over what he claims are the world's first genetically edited children has apologised for the result being leaked.



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