Hong Kong, China. The scientist, who raised the conference in Hong Kong with his statement about the creation of the world's first genetically edited children, canceled a fresh conversation and was seriously criticized by the organizers on Thursday, who called it irresponsible.
He told Jiankui at a saturated biomedical conference on Wednesday that he was “proud”, successfully changing the DNA of two twin girls born of an HIV-infected father, an obvious medical breakthrough.
But the details of the experiment, which was not independently verified, caused an immediate reaction, and He said that the trial was suspended.
He was supposed to speak at the summit again on Thursday, but disappeared from the schedule.
David Baltimore, Nobel laureate and chairman of the organizing committee, told reporters that it was his decision not to attend.
The organizers of the second International Summit on the editing of the human genome stated that he was “unexpectedly and deeply concerned” that the human embryos were edited and implanted and called for closer monitoring of the field at the end of the conference on Thursday.
“Even if the changes are checked, the procedure was irresponsible and did not meet international standards,” the statement said.
“Its shortcomings include inadequate medical indications, poorly designed research protocol, inability to meet ethical standards to protect the welfare of researchers, and a lack of transparency in the design, analysis and conduct of clinical procedures,” he added.
University professor He, based in the South Chinese city of Shenzhen, said the twins who were born a few weeks ago changed their DNA so that they would not get HIV. Eight volunteers — HIV-positive fathers and HIV-negative mothers — signed up for the trial, with one drop out before it was suspended.
He said that there was “another potential pregnancy” involving the second pair, but it is unclear whether this pregnancy continues.
Experts warned that editing human embryos can create unintended mutations in other areas – the so-called “out-of-goal effects” that can affect a lifetime.
The Southern University of Science and Technology distanced itself from him, stating that since February it had been unpaid leave and “seriously violated academic ethics.”
He, who was educated at Stanford University, said that the twins' DNA was modified using CRISPR, a technique that allows scientists to remove and replace strings with precise accuracy.
Technology co-creator Jennifer Dudna said that she felt “horrified” when he heard him talking, adding that she was deeply concerned about the people affected and asked if they really understood this procedure.
Summit organizers said that editing the genomic line could be “acceptable” in the future if strict criteria are met, including “strict independent oversight”.
However, they added that there are too many scientific and technical uncertainties that allow clinical trials at this stage.