Researcher who 'gene-edited' twins could face criminal charges


  • Mary Corcoran
  • Univadis Medical News
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Authorities in China have completed a preliminary investigation following claims that a researcher had edited the embryonic genomes of twins. 

In November 2018, researcher He Jiankui told the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing that the world's first genetically edited babies had been born in China whose genomes had been edited to prevent them from contracting HIV. 

Earlier this week, it was announced that the Guangdong Province Investigation Task Force has completed a preliminary investigation into the matter, with Xinhua, China’s state news agency, saying the investigation found He Jiankui had "defied government bans and conducted the research in the pursuit of personal fame and gain."

According to the report, He Jiankui had intentionally "dodged supervision, raised funds and organised researchers on his own" for the project. With a fake ethical review certificate, He recruited eight volunteer couples. One of these couples delivered twins while another is pregnant according to the agency. 

The Southern University of Science and Technology where He Jiankui had worked said that based on the findings of the investigation, it was rescinding its contract with Dr Jiankui immediately and terminating his teaching and research activities. 

Those involved in the experiment face criminal charges and will be transferred to the public security department, Xinhua said.