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A Chinese scientist's claims that he created the world's first gene-edited babies is a "deeply disturbing" and "irresponsible" violation of international scientific norms, according to a formal conclusion issued Thursday by organizers of the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong.

But the summit rejected calls for a blanket moratorium on such research, saying that the work could eventually lead to new ways to prevent a long list of serious genetic diseases.

"Making changes in the DNA of embryos could allow parents carrying disease-causing mutation have healthy genetically related children," said David Baltimore, a Nobel-prize winning U.S. biologist who chaired the summit.

The summit was jolted by scientist He Jiankui's surprise and unverified claims earlier this week that he had edited the genes of twin girls who were born last month.

He, of the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, claims he modified the embryos of the twins with the gene-editing technique CRISPR so that they would be immune to the AIDS virus. His claims remain unproven.

Nevertheless, hundreds of scientists from dozens... see more