China stops research into gene-editing after 'CRISPR baby'
November 29, 2018
Claims by Chinese scientist He Jiankui have prompted Beijing to order a halt to all activities related to gene-editing. A government spokesperson called He's supposedly genetically edited babies "unacceptable."
The Chinese government on Thursday ordered a temporary stop to all scientific research related to the editing of human genes — the latest condemnation following claims by Chinese scientist He Jiankui that he had genetically altered twin babies.
Beijing also warned that He's gene-editing activities may have broken the law and ordered an investigation.
China's science and technology vice minister, Xu Nanping, described He's behavior as "shocking and unacceptable" in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV.
The ministry "firmly opposes" the experiment and has "already demanded that the relevant organization suspend the scientific activities of relevant personnel," Xu said.
The National Health Commission has ordered an investigation into He's claims, as has the Southern University of Science and Technology, where the scientist worked.
The organizers of a Hong Kong biomedical conference, where He announced his gene-editing claims, described his work on Thursday as "deeply disturbing" and "irresponsible."
He's filing to a clinical trials database shows that a hospital did an ethical review of the project, but the hospital in question denied ever discussing the work.
He released his work via YouTube, bypassing the usual channels of review for scientific work
Scientistics condemned He for his failure to adhere to research standards, with the conference organizers citing "inadequate medical indication, a poorly designed study protocol, a failure to meet ethical standards for protecting the welfare of research subjects, and a lack of transparency in the development, review and conduct of clinical procedures."