Chinese researcher stakes claim to world’s first genetically edited babies

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The Chinese scientist who sparked near-universal criticism for his claim of creating the world's first gene-edited babies has reportedly been suspended without pay and placed under investigation.

He quickly moved to defend what he did with the twin girls. An American scientist, Michael Deem of Rice University, also worked on the project.

China's Ministry of Health said it was placing a high priority on the case and that it ordered the probe. That may be true, to a point, but it's abundantly clear that many organizations within China maintain similar ethical standards to their counterparts overseas.

In this October 9, 2018 photo, Zhou Xiaoqin adjusts a monitor showing a video feed of a fine glass pipette containing Cas9 protein and PCSK9 sgRNA to an embryo under a microscope at a laboratory in Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong province.

Southern University of Science and Technology said on Monday that it was not aware of the research, as He did not report it to the school.

However, the Shenzhen commission said the hospital's ethics committee was not valid because the hospital did not register the committee's establishment with the commission as required.

According to a form posted online, the city's science and innovation committee was listed as backing the experiment, something the panel denies. The experiment prompted a global outcry over its ethical limits. However, there are also concerns about its safety and ethics. He said twin girls with the altered genes were born earlier this month.

"For this case, I feel proud".

On Wednesday, He introduced his clinical study of gene editing during a presentation at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong, sharing data on his experiments on live mice and monkeys. He stressed that Catholics do not need to automatically consider all gene editing to be problematic, but "need to be attentive to where the dangers are".

Revelations of the experiment were quickly met with criticism, both and home and overseas, although in China, the pushback was particularly sharp. If the scientist's claims prove true, the newborns are the world's first humans to be genetically modified as embryos.

He added that he had initially funded the experiment by himself.

"They need this protection since a vaccine is not available", He said.

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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 USA and Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research.

"Not only do I see this as risky, but I am also deeply concerned about the lack of transparency" around the work, Zhang, a scientist at MIT's Broad Institute, said in a statement.

He's alleged tinkering of humanity's biological architecture was first revealed in a YouTube video this week that sent shockwaves through the biomedical community.

"What is wrong with replacing old humanity with a new humanity?"

"For forty years, regulations and morals have developed together with IVF", he said in the video. The same goes for cloning human beings.

Six other couples participated in the researcher's attempt to identify a genetic trait that would resist the HIV virus that causes AIDS.

"In the future, humans will create humans and the fatality rate will largely decrease; meanwhile there will be less resources and more competition". "Gene surgery is and should remain a technology for healing", He says in the video, in English with lab equipment arrayed behind him.

"People are not quite clear about the long-term function of every gene yet".

Scientists must first target a particular gene sequence they're interest in.

Nobel laureate David Baltimore said professor He's work would "be considered irresponsible" because it did not meet criteria many scientists agreed on several years ago before gene editing could be considered.

While technically possible, the ethics of the matter remain blurry, with some opponents suggesting that more measures and checks are needed before it can be allowed.

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