Investigation Shows CRISPR Researcher He Jiankui's Work On First Gene-Edited Babies Broke The Law


Chinese scientist He Jiankui, who gained worldwide condemnation for the first gene-edited babies, is found to have violated the laws in China after he conducted the experiments "in pursuit of personal fame and gain."

It was in November 2018 when He announced the birth of one of the volunteers to twin babies, Lulu and Nana, whose DNA were modified to make them resistant to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Later on, the CRISPR researcher revealed that another one was pregnant as a result of his study.

Investigation On He Jiankui's Gene Editing

Since then, the country's National Health Commission opened a probe on the claims of the scientist, and on Monday, investigation showed He's work is illegal. Moreover, the probe revealed what he did in order to push through with the research: formed his own team, forged certificates to lure eight volunteer couples (all fathers are HIV positive), and commanded his personnel to edit the genes and implant these.

"This behavior seriously violates ethics and the integrity of scientific research, is in serious violation of relevant national regulations and creates a pernicious influence at home and abroad," the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Punishment For Violating The Law

The head of the gene-edited babies experiment also handled funding on his own and didn't adhere to supervision just to continue the study. Law enforcement will "seriously" deal with He and his team although it isn't clear if it's anything as drastic as death penalty as earlier reported.

The pregnant woman and the twins will remain in Guangdong overseen by state health authorities. Meanwhile, He's announcement in November became a headliner, with the scientists even expressing how proud he was of genetically modifying the babies' DNA, albeit only one of the twins is immune against HIV.

He cited the stigma over those who have the disease, but as established, gene-editing is banned in a lot of countries including China. Although the process can be done for research purposes, getting an approval is usually rigorous.

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