Gene-edited babies; He Jiankui guilty of illegal medical practice.

Beijing, China

Originally posted on DW.

A court has found Chinese scientist . He had claimed credit for genetically engineering twins resistant to HIV in a controversial procedure.

He Jiankui speaks about the procedure in his lab

A Chinese court on Monday sentenced biophysics researcher He Jiankui to three years in prison for creating the world’s first “gene-edited” babies.

Two other scientists who assisted He were also handed lesser sentences.

“The three accused did not have the proper certification to practice medicine, and in seeking fame and wealth, deliberately violated national regulations in scientific research and medical treatment,” said the court, according to China’s Xinhua news agency.

“They’ve crossed the bottom line of ethics in scientific research and medical ethics.”

Read more: Opinion: Why we should stop human gene editing

A molecule is being edited using CRISPR

He used a procedure known as CRISPR which allows one to edit snip and replace gene

‘My work will be controversial’

In 2018, He released a YouTube video announcing the results of his medical intervention and the birth of gene-edited twins. He said the genes were edited using CRISPR to prevent embryos from contracting HIV, noting that the twins’ father had the virus.

Chinese Scientists He Jiankui

“Their parents don’t want a designer baby,” He said. “Just a child who won’t suffer from a disease which medicine can prevent. I understand my work will be controversial, but I believe families need this technology and I’m willing to take the criticism for them.”

Read more: HIV completely removed from mice in groundbreaking study

Ethical issues

His actions were widely condemned by the scientific community for failing to adhere to research guidelines that forbid such practices, especially without oversight.

In the US, the medical procedure is strictly limited to laboratory research. In China, while human cloning is outlawed, gene editing is not.

The MIT Technology Review warned that “the technology is ethically charged because changes to an embryo would be inherited by future generations and could eventually affect the entire gene pool.”

A study published afterward found that the people who have comparable natural genetic modification are likely to die earlier .

Read more: Who’s the daddy: Does it really matter where your DNA comes from?Watch video02:19

A revolution in gene editing

ls/aw (Reuters, AP)

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 Who’s the daddy: Does it really matter where your DNA comes from?The three-parent baby born in Mexico has raised renewed scientific and ethical concerns about our meddling with DNA. But if our bodies are mere vessels for life, does it really matter whose DNA we carry? (29.09.2016)  Opinion: Why we should stop human gene editingThe world’s first genetically modified babies have been born — at least that’s what a Chinese researcher has claimed.

This breach of taboo sends a disturbing signal and must not be tolerated, says DW’s Fabian Schmidt. (27.11.2018)

 World’s first gene-edited babies born, scientist claimsA Chinese scientist has claimed credit for genetically engineering twins resistant to HIV in a controversial procedure.

His university has distanced itself from the research, saying it will launch an investigation. (26.11.2018)  Gene-editing scientist claims ‘another potential pregnancy’A Chinese scientist who claims to have genetically engineered twins has said there could be more coming soon.

Fellow scientists have decried the practice of gene-editing humans, saying it is “truly unacceptable.” (28.11.2018)  HIV completely removed from mice in groundbreaking studyIn a world first, scientists in the US were able to completely remove HIV from a living animal using gene editing. The research is a major milestone, giving hope that a cure could be on the horizon. (04.07.2019)  CRISPR-Cas9 babies likely to die earlier, Berkeley study saysLast year, Chinese researcher He Jiankui shocked the scientific community. He had artificially conceived genetically manipulated children. Now a study confirms: They have a significantly shorter life expectancy. (03.06.2019)  

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