China orders halt to gene-editing after outcry over babies

Chinese scientist created human babies using gene editing resistant to HIV

Man behind DNA-edited babies under investigation, suspended

But former Chinese health ministry official Qiu Renzong said lax regulations in China mean that scientists who break the rules often face no punishment.

"For this specific case, I feel proud actually. I feel proudest", he said, addressing the conference.

In a statement wrapping up the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong, the event's organizing board said He Jiankui's research was "irresponsible" and called for an assessment to "verify this claim and to ascertain whether the claimed DNA modifications have occurred".

It was unclear whether the pregnancy had ended or not. Scientists from across the globe lambasted He's experiment.

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Prof He also said that the study had been submitted to a scientific journal for review, though he did not name the journal.

In a latest scientific and technological breakthrough, a Chinese scientist has claimed that he has successfully altered the DNA of twin girls at an embryonic stage, girls who were finally born earlier this month in China. He claims to have used the gene editing tool CRISPR to remove Nana and Lulu's CCR5 gene, which should make them immune to HIV, but the genetic ripple effect on these children may go much deeper. Although he still hasn't published any real evidence, scientists across the world were quick to condemn the ethically dubious claims, describing the experiment as "deeply concerning", "shocking", and "monstrous".

CRISPR is a molecular tool that allows scientists to edit sections of DNA.

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

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He reportedly worked with a volunteer couple in which the male partner was HIV positive. The procedure could give the babies the ability to resist future infections, the researcher said. Attendees pressed him on whether his team acted ethically while obtaining consent from the trial participants, on how he could prove the test's effectiveness while maintaining its subjects' anonymity and on what his ongoing responsibility is to the innovative new babies. It does not mention that such an experiment has never been done before. "I personally don't think it was medically necessary".

But he apologised that his research "was leaked unexpectedly". He said he would monitor the two newborns for the next 18 years and hoped they would support continued monitoring thereafter.

Chinese authorities on Thursday ordered suspending research activities of persons involved in the gene-edited babies incident, denouncing the matter as "extremely abominable in nature" and in violation of Chinese laws and science ethics. Their statement was emailed on Thursday but dated on Tuesday.

According to The Guardian, China's National Health Commission has ordered an investigation into He's claims, while the Shenzhen Health and Family Planning Commission has begun examining the ethics of the study.

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