The, a Chinese researcher who claims to have created the first genetically modified babies in the world, showed that his second pregnancy was caused by his project, highlighting the dilemmas facing China’s leaders as they try to control the nascent industry to dominate genomics research throughout the world.
He Jiankui – a scientist from Shenzhen, who shook the world this week, saying that he changed the genes of the embryos to make them resistant to HIV – said the study was suspended. A US researcher spoke for the first time at a conference on genetics in Hong Kong, where he sought to protect his work and was confronted with questions related to peers.
“I am proud,” he said of the birth of twins, who, he said, was born normal and healthy. His statements have not yet been confirmed, and he has not identified the subjects of his experiment. His appearance at the summit left participants, among whom were well-known gene editing researchers, with more questions than answers. He spoke quietly and hesitantly, and it is unclear whether there is one more “potential pregnancy” that he talked about.
The scientist’s speech in Hong Kong could not suppress a condemnation from the Chinese and global scientific communities that attacked him for banning work in the United States and many other countries. His revelations caused a strong discussion on the ethical boundaries of genetic editing and called for tighter regulation amid fears that the world could move closer to the creation of child designers.
“This is truly an unacceptable development,” said Jennifer Dudna, a key pioneer in gene editing technology. “I don’t think this is trustworthy, it is about medical necessity. We are struggling to understand the implications of this work. ”
He said yesterday that he submitted his work to a scientific journal for review, without specifying a publication. He also stressed that he told the couples who participated in the study of the risks associated with the removal of the CCR5-associated gene, which he removed in twins using the powerful tool for editing the Crispr gene.
There are questions about whether He took the unnecessary risk of changing healthy embryos.
He is now faced with three investigations in China and calls on famous Chinese researchers to punish him. A senior government official in China said his work was illegal.
On several occasions during the session, he seemed puzzled by the deep ethical questions posed to him. When asked if he had thought about how this procedure will affect girls in their dynamics with family, friends and romantic partners throughout their lives, he said: “I don’t know how to answer this question.” He added that the use of technology to help people with genetic diseases to "sympathize."
William Hurlbut, a senior researcher in neuroscience at Stanford Medical School, said he was one of those ethics he had consulted with over the past two years. Mr. Gorlbut, who served on the presidential bioethics council of the United States, said that although he knew that he was “moving in that direction,” he did not know the full-scale project or that he meant implanted embryos. “I challenged him at all levels, and I do not approve of what he did,” said Harlbut.
Nobel laureate David Baltimore, who also attended the conference on genetics, criticized the mystery of His work. “If he were more open with what he was doing, it could be part of a national or international discussion,” he said. "I think he acted irresponsibly."
The institutions associated with him, including his university — the Southern University of Science and Technology — and the hospital in Shenzhen, where he allegedly received the ethical approval of the project, said they did not know about his work. He said that the university did not know about the work of the laboratory.
Harmonicare Medical Holdings Ltd., which owns a hospital in Shenzhen, said on Tuesday that it believes that the signatures in a statement to the medical ethics committee of the hospital were forged and that the committee had never met to consider its proposal.
The Chinese scientific community, including several well-known research groups, made statements opposing its work and calling it a blow to China’s scientific reputation throughout the world.
On Tuesday, the brightest sign that the Chinese government viewed its draft as a violation of the rules, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Xu Nanping said in a press briefing that China banned the use of gene editorial for birth control in 2003.
Chinese law does not mention the use of Crispr, a revolutionary gene editing technique that he used to change the genetic code of twins. In contrast, the United States and many other countries severely restrict the use of Crispr in the so-called germline editing, which is associated with changes that will affect the descendants of the original patient, and is a species that he claims has performed in China.
The most recent statement by the Chinese government, the 2017 document from the Ministry of Science and Technology, says only that gene editing studies are fraught with great risks and require strict supervision.
At his briefing on Tuesday, Deputy Minister Xu hinted at internal debates, which the Chinese government is discussing how it should regulate growing research areas, such as biotechnology and artificial intelligence. China wants to be a leader in defining technologies of the 21st century, but poor risk management, such as Him.
“We are aware that this is a double-edged sword. Sometimes we feel very anxious, said Xu. “To be honest, on this issue, we still have not fully straightened our thinking. We know that there will be some negatives, but we also don’t dare – because there will be negatives – in order to avoid technologies or achievements. ” Bloomberg