The Chinese scientist who claims to have created the first babies in the world genetically modified revealed another woman in her study may be pregnant. At a summit in Hong Kong on Wednesday, He Jiankui said his study is now suspended after a worldwide conviction.
The leader of the summit called doctor he is study irresponsible. Among the concerns is his lack of transparency and the question of whether his patients have correctly consented. But on Wednesday, he doubled and defended his job.
Members of the audience applauded when the physicist trained at Stanford University and Rice spoke at the International Summit on Human Genetic Modification in Hong Kong on Wednesday. Shortly after, he was riddled with questions, which he often seemed unable or unwilling to answer. When asked if their genotype could affect their education, he replied, "I do not have to answer that question."
In videos posted on YouTube this week, he claimed to have successfully edited the genetic code of the twins while they were embryos. He says he used the gene editing tool called CRISPR to remove a gene that makes people vulnerable to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The embryos were then implanted in the mother who gave birth to Lulu and Nana a few weeks ago.
"I think we still need to understand the motivation of the study and the process used to obtain informed consent," said Jennifer Doudna, co-inventor of the gene editing tool CRISPR, who observed him talking.
He said Wednesday that all the couples involved in his study had consented and referred people to his website, where he provided an example of a consent form, describing the study as a "development project". a vaccine against AIDS ". He said he had recruited couples from a "group of HIV AIDS volunteers".
He said that seven couples are involved in the study; all fathers are HIV-positive and HIV-negative mothers. Experts said that some of the risks associated with this gene release, are a high risk of contracting other viruses, such as West Nile.
Dana Carol is a professor of biochemistry. He is worried about the impact his study will have on other research.
"The technology is not mature enough," Carol said. "Ultimately, we want to make reproductive revision accessible to people with devastating diseases and I only hope that it will not make us back down."
He claims to have paid for all the medical treatment of his patients himself. He is currently under investigation by his university, the Chinese government and the hospital which, he says, has given him ethical approval for the trial.
According to him, the second woman potentially pregnant with his study is subject to close supervision.
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