Scientist He Jiankui conducted an experiment on his own and violated several laws.He Jiankui Photo by Sam Tsyang
According to the preliminary results of the investigation by the Chinese authorities, the scientist He Jiankui created a laboratory with his own money and edited the genes of two embryos. He forged documents to attract volunteers and violated the ban on the birth of genetically-edited people. It is reported by the South China Morning Post, with reference to the state agency “Xinhua”.
According to investigators, Jiankui organized a design team, which included foreign researchers. They intentionally avoided surveillance by the authorities and used technology to edit genes, the safety and effectiveness of which is not yet known. Since Jiankui and his team have been experimenting with the goal of giving birth to edited children, theyviolated local law.
To find volunteers, the scientist forged documents on the ethical evaluations of the experiment. Eight pairs decided to edit the genome, one of which successfully gave birth to twin girls with edited genes.
Now born children and at least one more pregnant woman are under the supervision of doctors. Authorities assured that Jiankui, his staff and all related organizations would be punished in accordance with local law.
A spokesman for the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shao Feng, told the Beijing Youth Daily that the incident would be thoroughly investigated. He noted that he was concerned about the risks to children’s health, as well as the possible impact on the human race.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]If one day the gate of genetic editing is opened, humanity is finished. This is a powerful technology, but the terrifying fact is that it can be used by anyone who is at least a little trained in laboratory work.[/perfectpullquote]
The location of Jiankuya remains unknown. The authorities did not report whether he was in custody or house arrest. Former employer Jiankuya from the Southern University of Science and Technology of China in Shenzhen denied his detention.
At the end of November 2018, He Jiankui announced the birth of his first children with genetically edited genes that are immune to HIV. The scientific community was skeptical, as the scientist did not provide any evidence or peer-reviewed data from his experiment.