Chinese Government Says It Has Shut Down Controversial Human Gene-Editing Project

03 December, 2018, 05:50 | Author: Bruce West
  • Who are the investors supporting He Jiankui the Chinese scientist behind the gene-edited babies

Currently, China's National Health Commission has requested an immediate investigation into the case after the hospital at which He claimed to have obtained his approval documents denied having been involved in the research, according to CNN.

"The gene-edited twins matter reported by the media has brazenly violated Chinese laws and regulations and breached the science ethics bottom line, which is both shocking and unacceptable", said Xu Nanping, vice minister of the Ministry of Science and Technology, Xinhua reported. "We are resolutely opposed to it".

He revealed it Monday in Hong Kong to one of the organizers of an worldwide conference on gene editing that is set to begin Tuesday, and earlier in exclusive interviews with The Associated Press.

He, who said his work was self-funded, shrugged off concerns that the research was conducted in secrecy, explaining that he had engaged the scientific community over the past three years.

The China Association for Science and Technology said it will disqualify He's candidacy for an award for young scientists as it has "zero tolerance" for breaches of scientific ethics and norms.

Scientists can do gene editing research on discarded IVF embryos, as long as they are destroyed immediately afterwards and not used to make a baby.

The organizing committee of the conference has released a statement about the matter, calling for a forum on this type of research and encouraging scientific groups to formulate guidelines to govern its use.

At the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong on Wednesday, Dr. Research in mice suggests that deleting CCR5 boosts visual and spatial memory, according to a 2016 study led by Alcino Silva of the University of California, Los Angeles. In the video, He declined further comment until presenting his findings to a bustling auditorium filled with journalists and camera crews at a Hong Kong scientific conference on Wednesday, after fallout and worldwide outrage over what some have called a "designer baby" experiment.

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The scientist told delegates he was "proud of" his work, adding if the same situation occurred and it was his child he would "try it first".

He also said that "another potential pregnancy" of a gene-edited embryo was in its early stages.

Some scientists were astounded to hear of the claim and strongly condemned it.

There already are some rules that should have prevented what Dr He says he did, said Dr Alta Charo, a University of Wisconsin lawyer and bioethicist and a conference organiser.

"We've been talking about genetic engineering of embryos for a while", Evans said. "I understand my work will be controversial, but I believe families need this technology and I'm willing to take the criticism for them". And the answer is yes. "Many embryos fail to survive".

Jiankui, a professor at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, had edited embryonic genes for seven couples undergoing in-vitro fertilization, using a tool known as CRISPR-cas9, which can insert or deactivate certain genes.He has admitted that he felt proud of this specific work as the intervention resulted in the birth of two seemingly healthy twin girls whose altered DNA had made them resistant to HIV.

He had been scheduled to speak again at the conference Thursday, but his talk was canceled. And as VOA reports, over 300 scientists, both from China and overseas, have signed a petition questioning the necessity of the work.

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