BEIJING — Chinese investigators have determined that the doctor behind the reported birth of two babies whose genes had been edited in hopes of making them resistant to the AIDS virus acted on his own and will be punished for any violations of the law, a state media report said Monday.

Investigators in the southern province of Guangdong determined Dr. He Jiankui organized and handled funding for the experiment without outside assistance in violation of national guidelines, the Xinhua News Agency said.

Along with the birth of the twins, another embryo yet to be born reportedly resulted from He’s experiment. All three will remain under medical observation with regular visits supervised by government health departments, Xinhua said.

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It didn’t say which laws He might have violated but said he had fabricated an ethical review by others.

“This behavior seriously violates ethics and the integrity of scientific research, is in serious violation of relevant national regulations and creates a pernicious influence at home and abroad,” the report said.

Then little-known, He attended an elite meeting in Berkeley, California, in 2017 where scientists and ethicists were discussing a technology that had shaken the field to its core — an emerging tool for “editing” genes, the strings of DNA that form the blueprint of life.

He embraced the tool, called CRISPR, and last year rocked an international conference with the claim that he had helped make the world’s first gene-edited babies , despite a clear scientific consensus that making genetic changes that could be passed to future generations should not be attempted at this point.

China called an immediate halt to He’s experiments following his announcement.

Gene editing for reproductive purposes is effectively banned in the U.S. and most of Europe. In China, ministerial guidelines prohibit embryo research that “violates ethical or moral principles.”

The chief of the World Health Organization said last year his agency is assembling experts to consider the health impact of gene editing.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said gene editing “cannot be just done without clear guidelines” and experts should “start from a clean sheet and check everything.”

“We have a big part of our population who say, ‘Don’t touch,'” Tedros told reporters. “We have to be very, very careful, and the working group will do that.”

— Associated Press

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  • Whatever his intentions were, this is eugenics, plain and simple. There exists a moratorium on eugenics for a good reason – people are not meant to be created in such a way that essentially boils down to picking and choosing features from a menu.

    The CRSPER Gene editor can be used responsibly for the good; it can be used to alter viruses that would be used as vectors by which one could initiate changes to an individual after birth to correct for an illness, and possibly in the future we might be able to reach a point where we can do genetic testing specific enough that we would know what diseases a child might have and could correct for them in utero – but that’s far down the road, and as well-intentioned as it is, the ethics of it and the practices associated with it will still need to be debated and hashed out before it gets to a point where it becomes common practice. I’m all for the advancement of science (especially medical science – I and my entire family suffer from autoimmune disorders, so we would fall into the category of people who would benefit from the type of Gene editing I described), but without knowing anything further about the situation and what he was trying to accomplish, that man was being irresposible and more or less playing God – he was doing it either because he could or just to see if he could. *shrug* Just my opinion…

  • Sorry I don’t feel spinal cord stimulation is a good choice for all patients as for myself..bad enough I’ve had failed back surgery and coral floating around in my back which causes me horrible infections in my back on top of pain from failed back surgery and the bumps I get from my body rejecting coral graphing..Now you wish to put yet another foreign object in my back?!?! Seriously I’m 60 I’m not a addict and all you Dr’s need to treat us adults who have proof of several pain issues that can’t be fixed with tender care!! We aren’t the ones sticking needles in our arms ?!?If nothing else just give us a pain pump…We deserve to be treated as adults not addicts.Or even put us on the patch and have us come in to reapply every 3 days or etc… If you have fear we would sell the patch etc.. I just don’t want pain and I’m so so sick of the bumps and infections and pain and being treated like a addict when for over 20 years the medication has worked for me!!!!!!!!!!

  • Unfortunately, a typical sign of these far too liberal times is ignoring potentially dire consequences for the sake of highly overstated “rights” and “freedom”. The world and humanity operate better with limits in place and enforced, a very simple and effective concept for order and peace (starts in pre-school). Controlling rogue scientists like He is no exception.

  • If someone is still wondering why none did it before, or at least, made it public.
    Here is the answer:
    to not be pilloried by the media, society and law

  • It only makes sense that He is locked up, his lab closed, his experimental babies under medical surveillance. Good for China to enforce stringent ethics in the field of genetic engineering. The science is extremely promising for the benefit of humanity, but needs to be heavily scrutinized as it involves initiating changes that are not yet perfected, and that pass on to future generations. Haphazardly altering human DNA should never be deemed acceptable.

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