Scientist reports 2nd gene-edited pregnancy

'An Experiment on Human Beings': Outrage as Chinese Researcher Claims to Change Babies' DNA

Chinese scientist created human babies using gene editing resistant to HIV

A Chinese scientist who claimed he helped make the world's first gene-edited babies is now under investigation by government bodies and by his own university.

Over 120 Chinese scientists from leading research universities such as Peking University and Tsinghua University in China, Stanford in the United States, and Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology, and Research signed a joint statement condemning He's research."The project completely ignored the principles of biomedical ethics, conducting experiments on humans without proving it's safe", said Qiu Zilong, a neuroscience researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (中国科学) who penned the statement posted on social media platform, Weibo."We can only describe such behavior as insane".

A joint statement Monday from a group of 100 scientists in China criticised He Jiankui's claims and called them a "great blow to the global reputation and development of biomedical research in China".

"First, I must apologize that this result was leaked unexpectedly", He told some 700 attendees. He said he had submitted his research to a scientific journal for review and had not expected to be presenting it at this conference.

Due to the unknown consequences associated with gene editing, which is still in its infancy, Feng Zhang, one of the inventors of the gene-editing technique CRISPR and member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, has called for a prohibition on using CRISPR to edit the genes of babies. These two babies would appear to be the first gene-edited babies. Any children born as a result of genome editing will also need long-term follow up. He's work "irresponsible" and a "failure of self-regulation by the scientific community".

Alta Charo, a highly respected University of Wisconsin bioethicist who helped organize the summit, issued an even harsher critique of He's work, calling it "misguided, premature, unnecessary and largely useless".

'An Experiment on Human Beings': Outrage as Chinese Researcher Claims to Change Babies' DNA

Amid repeated questions about the ethics and methodology of his experiment, He said he found volunteers through a social network of HIV carriers and explained, line by line and over 70 minutes, the implications of the study to seek their informed consent. While the couples received free medical care, they were not paid for participating in the experiment, He said.

"This experiment exposes healthy normal children to risks of gene editing for no real necessary benefit".

His claims have set off a firestorm of skepticism and criticism. Daley said it would be unfortunate if a misstep with a first case led scientists and regulators to reject the good that could come from altering DNA to treat or prevent diseases. And we will have time, just as we did when other expensive medical landmarks occurred - heart transplants, test tube babies, and somatic gene therapy.

The disclosure this week of He's research - carried out in southern China mostly under a shroud of secrecy - has sparked urgent debate about the ethics of gene-editing and raised the prospect of a future in which parents produce "designer babies" with selectively improved traits such as intelligence or strength.

"But at face value, this research has moved forward to the clinic way ahead of all the ethical consensus that has been going on internationally", Rossant said Monday. Lovell-Badge says he does not think He was aiming for genetic enhancement when editing the girls' genes, however.

In 2017, the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine said lab-only research to learn how to alter embryos is ethical - but said it's not ready for pregnancies yet. The CCR5 gene enables HIV to enter and infect immune system cells.

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