A second CRISPR pregnancy is already under way, claims rogue Chinese scientist


The Chinese scientist who claimed to have created the world's first genetically-edited babies has put his clinical trial on hold following a public outcry over the ethical limits of the procedure.

"For this specific case, I feel proud actually", He said at the second International Summit on Human Genome Editing, a gathering of genetics specialists from around the world. Although his appearance had been previously scheduled, Lovell-Badge said He had earlier "sent me the slides he was going to show in this presentation and it didn't include anything that he is going to talk about today".

"This study has been submitted to a scientific journal for review", he said.

Prof He confirmed the university was not aware, adding he had funded the experiment by himself. More importantly, prospective parents anxious about more than one genetic marker, and who therefore might not have any "unaffected" embryos, could use gene editing to make changes at multiple places in their embryos' genomes.

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This gene-editing surgery was done to protect the girls from future HIV infection, claims the doctor, by removing the portal through which the AIDS virus infects people. Chinese scientists have expressed disapproval of Jiankui's research, stating that the use of the CRISPR-Cas9 tool is a "huge blow" to the reputation of Chinese biomedical research.

He's announcement, which has not been verified, sparked an global outcry about the ethics and safety of such research.

On Sunday, Chinese scientists at the Southern University of Science and Technology announced via YouTube that the first pair of gene-edited babies had been born. The Southern University of Science and Technology, the university in the southern Chinese city in Shenzhen that employs him, says he has been on unpaid leave since February.

He explained that eight couples - comprised of HIV-positive fathers and HIV-negative mothers - had signed up voluntarily for the experiment; one couple later dropped out. In a country such as the US, which has up until now been very hands-off when it comes to most uses of assisted-reproduction technologies, there's a very real chance that decisions about whether to use gene-editing in embryos, and in what ways, will eventually be left up to individuals.

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Consent: Many of the questions from attendees revolved around the consent process.

David Baltimore, President Emeritus and the Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Biology at the California Institute of Technology, spoke after He's speech, saying it was irresponsible to have proceeded until safety issues were in order.

Mr Baltimore said: "I personally don't think that it was medically necessary". "This is not just for this case, but for millions of children".

China's National Health Commission ordered an "immediate investigation", the official Xinhua news agency reported, while the Shenzhen hospital meant to have approved the research denied its involvement. He said he would monitor the two newborns for the next 18 years and hoped they would support continued monitoring thereafter.

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