HONG KONG (AP) – A head of an international conference on gene editing said Wednesday that the work of a Chinese scientist who claimed to have helped create the world's first baby to be with modified genes have shown a failure of self-regulation scientists.
Nobel laureate David Baltimore said the work of the scientist who made the allegation would be "considered irresponsible" because they did not meet the criteria that many scientists had identified as "irresponsible". agreed several years ago before we could consider gene editing.
Baltimore spoke at an international conference in Hong Kong, where Chinese scientist He Jiankui (HEH JEE-ahn-qway) from Shenzhen made his first public comments since the revelation of his work.
He added that the twins were born this month. He added that they were designed to help them resist a possible infection with the AIDS virus.
Baltimore said that he did not think it was medically necessary. He stated that the case showed "that there has been a failure of self-regulation by the scientific community" and stated that the conference committee would meet and issue a statement Thursday on the future of the field.
Dr. George Daley, Dean of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, also cautioned against turning back He's claim. Daley said it would be unfortunate that a misstep with a first case lead scientists and regulators to reject the good that could come from altering the DNA to treat or prevent diseases.
He said his lab had used the powerful CRISPR gene editing tool to alter the DNA of human embryos.
There is still no independent confirmation of his claim, but scientists and regulators have been quick to condemn the experiment as unethical and unscientific.
The National Health Commission has ordered local authorities in Guangdong Province to investigate its actions, and its employer, the Southern University of Science and Technology, is also conducting an investigation.
The Chinese researcher said that he was practicing the editing of mice, monkey embryos and human embryos in the laboratory for several years and had filed patent applications for his methods.
He said he chose the edition of embryo genes for HIV because these infections are a serious problem in China. He sought to disable a gene called CCR5 that forms a protein gateway allowing HIV, the virus at the origin of AIDS, to enter a cell.