HONG KONG, CHINA—An international conference on human gene editing dominated by news of the birth of the world's first genetically engineered babies concluded today with a statement from the organizers that harshly condemned the controversial study. But it did not call for a global moratorium on similar studies, as some scientists had hoped; instead it called for a "translational pathway" that might eventually bring the ethically fraught technology to patients in a responsible way.
The hotly debated study, which apparently resulted in twin baby girls whose genomes were altered in a way that could affect their offspring, came to light on the eve of the second International Summit on Human Genome Editing here. The first summit, held in Washington, D.C., in December 2015, concluded with a statement that specifically said that unless and until safety, efficacy, and ethical and regulatory issues are resolved, "it would be irresponsible to proceed with any clinical use of germline editing," a reference to genetic modifications that can be passed on to the next generation.
But that is exactly what Chinese researcher He Jiankui...