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The Chinese government says that it has put an end to a controversial project of editing human genes



He Jiankui.
Image: AP

A project claiming to have produced the first babies in the world to be modified by a gene has been stopped by the Chinese government, which declares the work of scientist He Jiankui as both illegal and unethical, according to the report. 39 Associated Press.

The world has learned the experience he had earlier this week, but we are still waiting for an outside scientific confirmation of his claims. Yesterday in Hong Kong, the scientist claimed to have used the CRISPR / cas9 gene editing tool to modify human embryos, but did not apologize, saying "proud" of the work. The resulting twins, born earlier this month in an unknown couple, are now expected to be immunized against HIV.

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This news was greeted with almost universal condemnation, with most scientists and traditional ethicists complaining of breaking established scientific and ethical standards, among other complaints. He is accused of having unduly experimented on humans with unproven and potentially dangerous technology.

On Tuesday, China ordered a "thorough investigation" of the project, but as reported by the Associated Press today, the government has now taken the extra step of halting the work until it reaches the end of the day. at new order. Chinese Vice Minister of Science and Technology, Xu Nanping, told CCTV state television that the government was strongly opposed to the project. According to Xu, the experience "exceeded the limits of morality and ethics that adhered to the academic community and was shocking and unacceptable," AP reported.

No other details were given, and the minister did not explain what could happen to him and his associates in the days and weeks ahead.

China's response to this incident could set an important precedent for a country accused of being the Wild West of biomedical research. There is no doubt that China is at the forefront of gene editing research for a few years now. Scientists created the world's first gene-modified human embryo and the first cloned monkeys, for example. Critics have complained that this progress is a result of China's lax regulatory structure, compared to the situation in the United States or Europe.

Aside from these accusations, it seems that the project in question is the work of an unsupervised laboratory that has gone to great lengths to avoid the proper pathways, for example by not having to go through it. not registering the clinical trial at the country's registry before the beginning of November, at about the same time that the binoculars were born. In addition, Chinese scientists rushed to condemn He's work. In a joint statement issued earlier this week, the China Society of Genetics and the Chinese Society for Stem Cell Research "strongly condemned" the project for its "extreme irresponsibility, both scientifically and ethically". And as reported by the VOA, more than 300 scientists from China and abroad have signed a petition calling into question the need for work.

This incident is certainly a good time for learning – although hopefully not at the expense of these twins, whose future health remains unknown.

[Associated Press]

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