Too soon to create gene-edited babies, say scientists

In the video, He declined further comment until presenting his findings to a bustling auditorium filled with journalists and camera crews at a Hong Kong scientific conference on Wednesday, after fallout and global outrage over what some have called a "designer baby" experiment.

The Chinese scientist who claims to have created the world's first genetically-edited babies revealed another woman in his study is possibly pregnant.

In many countries, it is not allowed to implant embryos back into the mother after editing their genes.

The girls had their genes edited so they could resist being infected with HIV, he said.

The claims were made in the days ahead of the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong, where He is slated to speak on two panels, including a breakout session on embryo and germline editing titled "A Forward Look at Research, Application, and Governance". The university also distanced itself from the research, saying it "seriously violates ethical and academic standards and regulations". "I would say no babies should be born at this time, following the use of this technology".

The case shows "there has been a failure of self-regulation by the scientific community" and said the conference committee would meet and issue a statement on Thursday about the future of the field, Mr Baltimore added.

He's experiment has also prompted criticism from the worldwide and domestic scientific community, with some denouncing it as premature and risky.

He's experiment "crossed the line of morality and ethics adhered to by the academic community and was shocking and unacceptable", Xu said.

Prof He's experiment is prohibited under Chinese laws, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Xu Nanping told state media. As scientists from around the world voiced their criticism, the Chinese government ordered an immediate investigation into He's claims.

Deem said he was in China when the participants agreed to genetic editing, and said they understood the risks, according to The Associated Press. "I don't think it has been a transparent process", Caltech's David Baltimore, who is a leader of the conference, said in a talk following He's, according to Reuters.

The organizers of a conference where He claimed to have edited the genes also condemned the work on Thursday, calling it "deeply disturbing" and "irresponsible".

The National Health Commission has ordered local officials in Guangdong province to investigate He's actions, and his employer, Southern University of Science and Technology, is investigating as well.

He Jiankui, an associate professor at Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, addressed a packed hall of around 700 people attending the Human Genome Editing Summit at the University of Hong Kong.

He, who said he was against gene enhancement, said eight couples were initially enrolled for his study while one dropped out.

  • Santos West