USA doctor warns against backlash to gene-edited baby claim

USA doctor warns against backlash to gene-edited baby claim

"This leaked unexpectedly, taking away from the community before presenting in a scientific venue and without the peer review process engaged before this conference", Jiankui said while speaking at an worldwide conference in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

A scientist has said that he is "proud" to have created the world's first genetically edited baby as he defended his work.

He Jiankui has told detractors at a conference in Hong Kong he's proud of his work.

Globally speaking, the field is so new and cutting edge that experts simply don't know the full impact and risk involved for a gene edited embryo as it develops into adulthood, and how changed DNA might pass into future generations. It's banned in some countries including the United States.

A major global summit on gene editing opened Tuesday in Hong Kong under the shadow of a recent scandal: Researcher He Jiankui claimed Monday to have edited genes in embryos to make them resistant to HIV, causing uproar from the worldwide scientific and academic communities.

Associate Professor He later revealed "another potential pregnancy" of a gene-edited embryo was in its early stages. He also said he personally paid for most of the patients' medical expenses, and that his university in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen was unaware of the study.

Baltimore said he didn't think that was medically necessary.

Scientist He Jiankui attends the International Summit on Human Genome Editing at the University of Hong Kong
Scientist He Jiankui attends the International Summit on Human Genome Editing at the University of Hong Kong

"It's not unreasonable to expect the scientific community" to follow guidelines, said David Baltimore, a Nobel laureate from California Institute of Technology who led the panel. CRISPR has been hailed as an innovation with tremendous potential, but many in the scientific community believe the technology is still experimental and not ready for human application.

He's university has disavowed his research, saying in a statement that it was "deeply shocked" and accusing He of "seriously [violating] academic ethics and codes of conduct". "I feel proudest", he told his peers at the conference, because the twin subjects' father "thought he had lost hope for life." .

Deem said he was in China when the participants agreed to genetic editing, and said they understood the risks, according to The Associated Press. He and his research have been condemned widely by scientists around the world with some saying that this sort of experimentation on humans is not morally or ethically defensible.

He claimed he used a technique called CRISPR/Cas9, which, if true, would be the first time the technique has been used to alter genes in unborn humans.

More than 100 scientists, most in China, said in an open letter on Tuesday the use of CRISPR-Cas9 technology to edit the genes of human embryos was risky, unjustified and harmed the reputation and development of the biomedical community in China.

The China Association for Science and Technology (CAST), a research society mainly comprised of researchers and scientists, said He Jiankui's candidacy of an award for young scientists will be disqualified, as CAST adopts a "zero tolerance" attitude to those who breach scientific ethics and norms. He said he recruited the couples from an "HIV AIDS volunteer group".

Xu called the team's actions illegal and unacceptable and said an investigation had been ordered, but made no mention of specific actions taken.

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