The Chinese scientist who claims he made CRISPR babies is under investigation
Comment of the Day

November 26 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Chinese scientist who claims he made CRISPR babies is under investigation

This article by Antonio Regalado for the MIT Technology Review may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

He said the girls had been conceived using IVF but that his team had added “a little protein and some information” to the fertilized eggs. That was a reference to the ingredients of CRISPR, the gene-editing technology he apparently employed to delete a gene called CCR5.

The claim set off a wave of criticism in China and abroad from experts who said the experiment created unacceptable risks for a questionable medical purpose. Feng Zhang, one of the inventors of CRISPR, called for a moratorium on its use in editing embryos for IVF procedures.

Documents connected to the trial named the study’s sponsors as He along with Jinzhou Qin and said it was approved by the ethics committee of HarMoniCare Shenzhen Women and Children’s Hospital.

On Sunday, the Shenzhen City Medical Ethics Expert Board said it would begin an investigation of He’s research and released a statement saying that HarMoniCare “according to our findings … never conducted the appropriate reporting according to requirements.” The former medical director of the private hospital, Jiang Su-Qi,  told Southern Capital News he had no recollection of approving He’s research while he was on its ethics committee.

“These two children are the guinea pigs. They will go through their whole maturing process having not understood the risks ahead of time,” said Liu Ying of Peking University’s Institute of Molecular Medicine.

Eoin Treacy's view

Has He been suspended because he went ahead with live human experiments of CRISPR gene editing or because he went public with the news? I have never doubted that China would be the first country to embrace a no-holes-barred approach to genetic editing, including in humans.

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