Research activities of persons halted over gene-edited babies incident

Research activities of persons halted over gene-edited babies incident

Research activities of persons halted over gene-edited babies incident

Chinese scientist He Jiankui is due to speak Wednesday at a summit of biomedical experts in Hong Kong, just days after publishing claims to have created the world's first genetically-edited babies. "For this specific case, I feel proud, actually, I feel proudest". "I feel proudest", he told his peers at the conference, because the twin subjects' father "thought he had lost hope for life." .

But details of the experiment, which has not been independently verified, triggered an immediate backlash and He said the trial had been halted. Then university has said it wasn't involved in the study, though documents available online about the work included the name of the institution.

He Jiankui, a professor at the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUST) in Shenzhen, said the twins - identified as "Lulu" and "Nana" - had their embryos' DNA changed using a method known as.

He says his lab used the powerful gene-editing tool CRISPR to alter the DNA of human embryos to try to help them resist possible future infection with the AIDS virus. He also said he personally paid for most of the patients' medical expenses, and that his university in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen was unaware of the study.

The revelation shone a light on a new technology called CRISPR-Cas9, a tool that allows researchers to replace faulty genes with new ones, but research is not fully clear on its effect on humans.

He's announcement, which has not been verified, sparked an global outcry about the ethics and safety of such research.

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Scientists have previously edited genes in adults to treat diseases, but the changes are confined to that person.

"The Pandora's Box has been opened, but we may still have a chance to close it before it is irreparable", the statement read. Scientists from across the globe lambasted He's experiment. Such work is banned in most countries. After the babies were born, the scientists tested their DNA to confirm the intended gene-editing occurred.

Robin Lovell-Badge, a professor of genetics and embryology at the Francis Crick Institute in London who moderated the session, asked a question that he said was on many attendees' minds. It does not mention that such an experiment has never been done before.

As a bioethicist and a lawyer, I am in no position to say whether CRISPR will at some point prove safe and effective enough to justify its use in human reproductive cells or embryos.

Dr. William Hurlbut, a Stanford ethicist, said he has "spent many hours" talking with He over the last two years about situations where gene editing might be appropriate.

In a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange on Tuesday, the group said preliminary investigations indicated the signatures on the application form circulated on the internet are "suspected to have been forged, and no relevant meeting of the Medical Ethics Committee of the hospital in fact took place".

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