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China jails first ‘gene-edited’ babies scientist for 3 years


Atta Ur Rehman KhanWeb Editor & Columnist

30th Dec, 2019. 10:26 pm
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BEIJING: A Chinese court sentenced the scientist who created the world’s first “gene-edited” babies to three years in prison on Monday, BOL News learnt.

According to the official news agency, on charges of illegally practicing medicine the scientist who created the world’s first ‘gene-edited’ babies sentenced to 3 years in prison.

He Jiankui was convicted of violating a government ban by carrying out his own experiments on human embryos, to try to give them protection against HIV.

He was globally condemned when he announced his experiments, and the birth of twin babies, last November.

Xinhua news agency said a third baby was also born at the same time, which had not previously been confirmed.

The local government in Guangdong province said it was keeping the babies under medical observation.

As well as the prison sentence, He was fined three million yuan ($430,000; £328,000).

The court also handed lesser sentences to Zhang Renli and Qin Jinzhou, who worked at two unnamed medical institutions, for having conspired with He in his work.

“The three accused did not have the proper certification to practice medicine, and in seeking fame and wealth, deliberately violated national regulations in scientific research and medical treatment,” the court said, according to Xinhua.

“They’ve crossed the bottom line of ethics in scientific research and medical ethics.”

In the US, the medical procedure is strictly limited to laboratory research. In China, while human cloning is outlawed, gene editing is not.

The MIT Technology Review warned that “the technology is ethically charged because changes to an embryo would be inherited by future generations and could eventually affect the entire gene pool.”

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