Researcher Who Gene Edited Babies Sentenced to Prison in China

FILE – In this Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 file photo, He Jiankui speaks during the Human Genome Editing Conference in Hong Kong. On Tuesday, April 17, 2019, Stanford University said they had cleared three faculty members of any wrongdoing in dealings with He who claims to have helped make the world’s first gene-edited babies. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

(BEIJING) — Three researchers involved in the births of genetically edited babies have been sentenced for practicing medicine illegally, Chinese state media said Monday.

The report by Xinhua news agency said lead researcher He Jiankui was sentenced to three years and fined 3 million yuan ($430,000).

Two other people received lesser sentences and fines. Zhang Renli was sentenced to two years in prison and fined 1 million yuan. Qin Jinzhou received an 18-month sentence, but with a two-year reprieve, and a 500,000 yuan fine.

He, the lead researcher, said 13 months ago that he had helped make the world’s first genetically edited babies, twin girls born in November 2018. The announcement sparked a global debate over the ethics of gene editing.

He also was involved in the birth of a third gene-edited baby.

The announcement sparked a global debate over the ethics of gene editing. He said he he had used a tool called CRISPR to alter a gene in embryos to try to help them resist infection with the AIDS virus.

The Xinhua report, citing court documents, said the researchers were involved in the births of three gene-edited babies to two women, confirming reports of a third baby.

The court said the the three researchers had not obtained qualification as doctors to practice medicine, pursued fame and profits, deliberately violated Chinese regulations on scientific research and crossed an ethical line in both scientific research and medicine.

It also said they had fabricated ethical review documents.

He studied in the U.S. before setting up a lab at the Southern University of Science and Technology of China in Shenzhen, a southern Chinese city that borders Hong Kong. The sentencing document accused him of colluding with Zhang and Qin, who worked at unnamed medical institutes in Guangdong province, where Shenzhen is located.

By Associated Press

Source: Researcher Who Gene Edited Babies Sentenced to Prison in China

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In a video posted on YouTube, Chinese scientist He Jiankui announced to the world that he successfully used the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 to modify the DNA of two embryos before birth, essentially creating the world’s first genetically modified humans. #CNN #News

 

 

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