Three babies, three scientists, three years in jail, and a three million yuan fine. This is the story of He Jiankui and the world’s first genome edited babies.
In November 2018, on the eve of the Second International Summit on Human Genome editing in Hong Kong, news leaked that a Chinese scientist had created genome-edited twins using CRISPR technology, which allows scientists to remove, add, or alter DNA. The news that genetically modified embryos had been used to create the twins was confirmed by He in a YouTube video and a follow-up presentation at the Hong Kong Summit. He explained that he had modified the CCR5 gene to provide the infants with resistance to HIV. During the Q&A period following his presentation, He confirmed that there was another ongoing pregnancy.
He’s experiment was widely condemned on both scientific and ethical grounds. In China, scientists insisted the research was premature. They also feared this controversial experiment would tarnish their scientific reputation for having failed to take ethics seriously. Over a hundred Chinese scientists signed a letter condemning the CRISPR baby experiment... see more