Science 2 min read

China Declares Experiment on Gene-Edited Babies Illegal

He Jiankui | The He Lab

He Jiankui | The He Lab

Chinese scientists He Jiankui might face severe punishment after authorities deemed his CRISPR experiment illegal. Authorities claim He performed these experiments in pursuit of “personal fame and fortune”. He made headlines late last year after announcing his successful experiment to bring genetically edited babies to term. This experiment led to the birth of the first gene-edited babies in the world.

In November last year, He said in an interview with the Associated Press that he was proud of his gene-editing work. Despite the pride in his work, the experiment He performed is not legal in China.

“Starting in June 2016, He Jiankui privately organized a project team involving foreign personnel, deliberately evading supervision, using safety and ineffective techniques, and implementing human embryonic genes for reproductive purposes prohibited by the state,” Xinhua News Agency, the official state-run media outlet of the Chinese government, reported.

Read More: Chinese Geneticist Claims To Have Gene Edited Human Embryos

Illegally Gene-Edited Babies

The initial report from the investigation team handling the controversial case also claimed that He forged ethical review papers.

The scientists allegedly used the papers to convince eight couples to participate in clinical experiments conducted between March and November last year.

The CRISPR clinical trials eventually led to two pregnancies. One pregnancy resulted in a full term pregnancy of twin girls while the other one is yet to be born. During He’s interview, the Chinese scientist did not disclose the whereabouts of the babies or the identity of the parents.

Following He’s announcement, scientists from around the world called for a moratorium on CRISPR until the establishment of stricter and clearer guidelines. The Chinese scientist reportedly went missing after making his claims but later reports confirmed his location under house arrest.

“He Jiankui and the personnel and institutions involved will be dealt with seriously according to the law, and the suspected crimes will be handed over to the public security organs for handling,” the investigation team reported.

“For the born babies and pregnant volunteers, Guangdong Province will work with relevant parties to do medical observation and follow-up work under the guidance of relevant state departments.”

Read More: Breaking: Human Embryos Genetically Modified In The U.S.

Do you agree that gene-edited babies are unethical and unlawful?

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