BEIJING CHINA. Chinese scientist Professor He Jiankui knows his work is controversial, and admits as much. “But I believe families need this technology and I’m willing to take the criticism for them,” he said.
When did this controversy start?
It all started in November 2018, when Professor He formally announced his experiment to the world at the Human Genome Editing Summit at the University of Hong Kong.
Immediately afterwards, Professor He’s employers, the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTECH) Shenzhen, responded that they were unaware of the research and would launch an investigation.
A spokesperson for the university added that he had been on, unpaid leave since February last year. The scientist confirmed that the university were unaware and that he had illegally funded the experiment on his own.
What happened in the experiment?
Professor He said that the twin girls, known as “Lulu” and “Nana”, were “born normal and healthy”. He added that he planned to observe them over the next 18 years.
As for the experiment itself, he said that eight couples comprised of HIV-positive fathers and HIV-negative mothers had signed up voluntarily for the experiment.
He claimed a couple dropped out later. He used a tool called CRISPR – an emerging technology for “editing” genes, the strings of DNA that form the blueprint of life.
Chinese authorities called an immediate halt to Mr He’s experiments following his announcement.
“This behaviour seriously violates ethics and the integrity of scientific research, is in serious violation of relevant national regulations and creates a pernicious influence at home and abroad,” it said.
The twins will remain under medical observation, with regular visits supervised by government health departments, Xinhua News Agency said.
Professor He previously shared that another embryo existed but the woman miscarried – an investigation proved this was not the case.
On the same day that the government report on the incident was revealed, He’s employer, SUSTECH, terminated his contract and said that he would cease all teaching and research activities with the school.
As of 28 December 2018, He is sequestered in a university apartment, under some sort of surveillance, and may likely face very serious consequences.
more details soon ……