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Doctor behind gene-edited babies acted alone, will be punished say Chinese authorities

Doctor behind gene-edited babies acted alone, will be punished say Chinese authorities
After rocking the scientific community by helping to create ‘AIDS-resistant’ children using banned gene-editing techniques, Chinese investigators have confirmed that Dr He Jiankui will be punished for his experiment.

“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,” a report by Chinese state news agency Xinhua stated.

The scientist made headlines across the world in 2018 by claiming to have helped make the world’s first gene-edited babies, flouting scientific consensus regarding the ethical implications of manipulating genes that would have intergenerational and somewhat unknown consequences.

Also on rt.com Designer baby steps: World’s first ‘gene-edited’ children born in China

The investigating team set up by the Health Commission of China in southern Guangdong province found that He had self-funded and privately organized a team to carry out the procedure using CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing techniques to “seek personal fame and profit,” according to the report.

He reportedly assembled a team that included foreign staff, all of whom intentionally evaded surveillance and used “technology of uncertain safety and effectiveness to perform human embryo gene-editing activity with the purpose of reproduction, which is officially banned in the country.”

Authorities also confirmed that He forged an ethical review between March 2017 and November 2018, and recruited eight couples to participate in the experiments, two of which achieved fertilization; twins Lulu and Nana are currently under observation by Chinese medical experts, while another embryo has yet to be born.

Also on rt.com Gene editing: What is it and should we worry?

In the aftermath of the initial announcement, there was widespread condemnation of He’s actions among the scientific and broader international communities. Gene editing for reproductive purposes is effectively banned in the US, most of Europe and many other nations around the world, including China.

READ MORE: ‘Chinese Frankenstein’ missing? Whereabouts of scientist who created gene-edited babies unknown

He defended his actions at a conference in Hong Kong last November, stating that he was “proud” of what he had done, doubling down by stating that he had helped protect the twin girls from possible infection with HIV later in life.

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