Scientists line up to take aim at research behind gene-edited babies

Scientists line up to take aim at research behind gene-edited babies

Canadian researchers have added their voices to widespread worldwide condemnation of a Chinese scientist who says he helped create genetically modified twin girls using a gene-editing tool known as CRISPR.

Speaking at a genome summit in Hong Kong, He Jiankui, an associate professor at a Shenzhen university, said he was "proud" of his work.

The announcement that broke earlier this week was that twin girls, dubbed Lulu and Nana, had been born to one of the sets of parents with the desired genetic modification.

"We believe the research led by Dr He is strongly against both the Chinese regulations and the consensus reached by the global science community", the two groups said in a statement posted online.

It is too early to tell if the second potential pregnancy will last, as He said it needs to be monitored carefully because it's in a very early stage. Even scientists at the conference said his speech gave very few answers and raised many new questions as to the motivation, funding and goal of the experiment.

While gene editing may one day lead to a world without hereditary diseases by deleting or changing troublesome genetic coding in embryos, there are worries about the effects on future generations.

She also called for public and transparent discussion of the technology so "that this news not detract from the many important clinical efforts to use CRISPR technology to treat and cure disease in adults and in children".

"After yesterday, with the revelations of the births of gene-edited twins, I think the tide was largely negative and the prospect of anticipating ethical uses in the future was nearly set aside", Daley said. "For this specific case, I feel proud, actually, I feel proudest". "I hope it never happens again".

"I found it highly troubling that He avoided questions about approval processes, and his answers on patient recruitment and consent did not reassure me".

Shortly after He's speech before the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing, American biologist David Baltimore, a Nobel laureate in physiology or medicine and a leader of the summit, called Dr.

"I personally don't think that it was medically necessary".


He Jiankui - the China-born, US-trained mastermind of the project - has now spoken about his work for the first time since the story erupted. Unconventionally, he made the announcement at an worldwide gene editing conference and in interviews with the Associated Press.

"It's not something that we're gleefully running towards", she said.

Shortly after his talk, He cancelled a planned appearance in a Thursday session on embryo gene editing, according to the Royal Society, one of the conference organizers.

The experiment has prompted heated debate among scientists over the risks involved.

On Tuesday, the Beijing News reported that He's team had been conducting experiments involving 400 human embryos with funding from the Southern University of Science and Technology.

There has been no independent verification of He's claim.

He did not name the journal and said his university was unaware of his study.

The university where He worked issued a statement that officials were "deeply shocked" by the experiment, which it stressed was conducted elsewhere.

Daley, for his part, says he was surprised to hear that He knew about the brain research.

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.

"Scientists who go rogue carry a deep, deep cost to the scientific community", Daley says.

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