'Gene-edited' babies' doctor sought fame, evaded oversight - China

A Chinese scientist who said he made the world's first "gene-edited" babies intentionally evaded oversight and broke national guidelines in a quest for fame and fortune, according to a government investigation quoted in state media.

He Jiankui said in November that he used a gene-editing technology known as CRISPR-Cas9 to alter the embryonic genes of twin girls born that month, sparking an international outcry about the ethics and safety of such research.

Hundreds of Chinese and international scientists condemned Mr Jiankui and said any application of gene editing on human embryos for reproductive purposes was unethical.

He had "deliberately evaded oversight" with the intent of creating a gene-edited baby "for the purpose of reproduction", according to the initial findings of an investigating team, Xinhua news agency reported.

He had raised funds himself and privately organised a team of people to carry out the procedure in order to "seek personal fame and profit," Xinhua said, adding that he had forged ethical review papers in order to enlist volunteers for the procedure.

The safety and efficacy of the technologies Mr Jiankui used are unreliable and creating gene-edited babies for reproduction is banned by national decree, the report said.

He defended his actions at a conference in Hong Kong in November, saying that he was "proud" of what he had done and that gene editing would help protect the girls from being infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.


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