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Gloved hand drops liquid into a vial labeled CRISPR

A Chinese scientist who shocked the medical community last year when he said he had illegally created the world's first gene-edited babies has been sentenced to three years in prison by a court in southern China.

He Jiankui announced in November 2018 that he had used a powerful technique called CRISPR on a human embryo to edit the genes of twin girls. He said he modified a gene with the intention of protecting the girls against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Many scientists expressed concerns about possible unintended side effects of the genetic changes that could be passed down to future generations.

Last fall, He also indicated there might be another pregnancy involving a gene-edited embryo. The court indicated that three genetically edited babies have been born.

The closed court in Shenzhen found He and two colleagues guilty of illegal medical practice by knowingly violating the country's regulations and ethical principles with their experiments, Xinhua news agency reported. It also ordered He to pay a fine of about $430,000.

He's colleagues, Zhang Renli and Qin Jinzhou, were handed lesser... see more