In November 2018, Chinese scientist He Jiankui shocked the world when he announced, first on YouTube and then at an international scientific gathering in Hong Kong, that he had used Crispr to alter the genetic makeup of human embryos, which were used to establish pregnancies and resulted in the birth of the world’s first gene-edited babies.
Backlash against He was harsh and swift. Members of the scientific community condemned his experiments as unethical and voiced concerns over the babies’ health, about which little is known today. The Chinese government suspended his research, saying he violated medical regulations. In December 2019, a Chinese court found He guilty of illegal medical practices and sentenced him to three years' imprisonment. In light of He’s experiment, China has since adopted regulations prohibiting the modification of human embryos for reproductive purposes. He was released from prison in April.
In recent months, He has taken to Twitter and the Chinese social media platform Weibo to publicize his next steps. Previously a researcher at Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, He says... see more