A Chinese researcher’s claim of creating the world’s first genetically edited babies is considered “irresponsible” by many scientists. The researcher’s employer, Southern University of Science and Technology of China, said it did not know about the activities. China’s government ordered a halt to the work on Thursday.
The researcher, He Jiankui, said he had edited the genetic material, or DNA, of two girls born recently. He said he had performed the gene editing to help protect the babies from infection with HIV, the virus responsible for the disease AIDS. He said the process had “worked safely” and the two girls were “as healthy as any other babies.”
There has been no independent confirmation of He’s work, and he did not provide written documentation of his research.
On Wednesday, He defended his work at an international conference in Hong Kong. He also announced a possible second pregnancy using the same process.
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