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Artistic rendering of DNA being severed by CRISPR

On Monday, a court in Shenzhen sentenced He Jiankui—the scientist who performed CRISPR gene-editing on twin human embryos—to three years in prison and a fine of about $430,000 for conducting an “illegal medical practice,” reports Andrew Joseph reports for Stat. During the trial, the court also quietly confirmed the birth of a third CRISPR-modified baby from a second pregnancy.

He and two colleagues, Zhang Renli and Qin Jinzhou, pleaded guilty to charges that they had “violated Chinese regulations and ethical principles” as well as “falsified regulatory paperwork,” Joseph reports. Zhang and Qin received suspended jail sentences and lower fines.

Last year, He announced the birth of twin girls who he had performed CRISPR gene-editing on as embryos. His claim, which had not been published in a peer-reviewed journal, caused a whirlwind of ethical controversy and his work was almost universally condemned as dangerous and premature by the scientific community.

"I understand my work will be controversial," He told NPR’s Rob Stein in 2018. "But I believe families need this technology. And I am willing to take the criticism for them."... see more