United States doctor warns against backlash to gene-edited baby claim

Chinese scientist says he helped create the world's first gene-edited human babies

According to the AP, a US scientist had helped with the project but said that this sort of DNA editing is banned in the States due to risks that could be passed down for generations. "There is another one, another potential pregnancy", he said on stage.

His shocking claims have not been independently verified, and sparked outrage from the global scientific community, with some experts calling the work "monstrous".

Bombshell: He made the claim about the early-stage pregnancy on the second day of an worldwide gene-editing summit at the University of Hong Kong.

"I feel a strong responsibility and let society decide for itself that this (achievement) to do next", - said the scientist, "But I had to do this for example of what's possible". The controversial gene-editing, which is banned in most countries, unsurprisingly led to worldwide outcry.

CRISPR-Cas9 is a technology that allows scientists to essentially cut-and-paste DNA, raising hope of genetic fixes for disease.

Gene editing is a potential fix for heritable diseases but it is extremely controversial because the changes would be passed down to future generations and could eventually affect the entire gene pool.

Professor Joyce Harper, professor in genetics and human embryology at London's UCL, said: "Today's report of genome editing human embryos for resistance to HIV is premature, unsafe and irresponsible".

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He told the AP that he had practiced editing mice, monkey, and human embryos in the lab for several years with the technology, CRISPR. They say there are serious unanswered questions about the safety of embryo editing and a need to make sure that such research is conducted in a transparent, monitored way so the technology is not misused. Once the embryos were 3 to 5 days old, some cells were removed and checked for editing. He claims that of 22 embryos, 16 showed signs of successful CRISPR editing, and 11 were implanted, resulting in a single pregnancy with twin girls who were born in November. People with only one copy of the CCR5 gene can still get HIV.

"The biomedical ethics review for this so-called research exists in name only". "This experiment exposes healthy normal children to risks of gene editing for no real necessary benefit". It is not clear whether the participants fully understood objective and potential risks and benefits. "We don't know. He said he confirmed that essentially they'd done the hormone test for whether or not the woman was pregnant". He told the Associated Press that he had genetically altered embryos for seven couples in fertility treatment, with one pregnancy so far.

Currently He Jiankui is under investigation by government bodies and by his own university.

The reaction from much of the scientific community was one of shock.

China's National Health Commission ordered an "immediate investigation" into the case, the official Xinhua news agency reported, while the Shenzhen hospital meant to have approved the research programme denied its involvement. Thus far the response within China has been to condemn and criticize his work.

He, a former Stanford University postdoctoral fellow who is based at China's Southern University of Science and Technology, said that his team first worked on mice and monkey embryos using a cutting-edge gene-editing technology known as CRISPR to disable a gene that allows the HIV virus to penetrate cells.

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