BEIJING – China announced Thursday that it has suspended the work of a scientist who claims to have created the world's first genetically modified babies, claiming that his conduct sounded unethical and violated the law. Chinese.
The scientist, He Jiankui, announced on Monday that he had used the Crispr gene editing technique to modify embryos, which he had implanted in the womb of a woman who had given birth to binoculars this month. At an international conference held on Wednesday, he said he was proud of what he had done.
Xu Nanping, Chinese Vice Minister of Science and Technology, said Dr. He's work was still under review. According to press reports, Dr. He apparently "flagrantly violated China's relevant laws and regulations" and broke "the foundation of morality and ethics to which the academic community adheres". reported the Chinese public television Central Television Thursday.
"It's shocking and unacceptable," Xu was quoted as saying. "We are resolutely opposed to that."
The suspension follows the international condemnation of scientists who argue that Dr. He's conduct was unethical. They say that there are serious issues outstanding about the safety of embryo editing and that it is necessary to ensure that these researches are carried out in a transparent manner and monitored so that the technology is not misused.
Xu said earlier that China's 2003 regulation allowed experiments to modify genes on embryos for research purposes, but only if they remained viable for up to 14 days.
On Monday, a group of 122 Chinese scientists issued a statement calling Dr. He's actions "crazy" and claiming that "his actions have dealt a severe blow to the reputation and development of Chinese science."
At the Second International Summit on Human Genome Modification held in Hong Kong on Wednesday, Dr. He acknowledged that he had not informed his university in China of the research that he was leading. He said that he had first paid for the research himself, and then later with his university funds.
Dr. He opposed any suggestion that he had been discreet about his work, claiming to have presented the preliminary aspects at conferences and consulted with scientists in the United States and elsewhere. He stated that he had submitted his research to a scientific journal for review and did not expect to present it at the conference.
Dr. He was scheduled to speak again at the conference on Thursday, but his lecture was canceled.
Robin Lovell-Badge, a professor of genetics and embryology at the Francis Crick Institute in London, who moderated Wednesday's session, said in an e-mail that it would have been difficult to get the job done. have enough security for a second discussion. He stated that Dr. He had decided not to attend after being informed of security arrangements.
Dr. Lovell-Badge said Thursday that the organizers felt that it was "important to give Dr. He a platform to introduce what he did."
"So we do not regret at all allowing him to make a presentation yesterday, but giving him a second opportunity today could also have been seen as support," he said. "That's another reason the committee did not want it to come back today."