Email
Password
Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageScientist who genetically engineered human babies, detained

By Tim Sandle     Jan 1, 2019 in Science
In November 2018 it was widely reported that Professor He Jiankui had genetically edited human babies, which brought widespread condemnation. Now the researcher has been, reportedly, detained by Chinese authorities.
The announcement about the experimentations came from a video posted online. Via this medium, Professor He Jiankui of the Southern University of Science and Technology (Shenzhen), explained how he performed an experiment to alter embryos for seven couples during fertility treatment as part of his genomics startup, Vienomics. Specifically, as Digital Journal reported, this was a modification to the DNA of twin girls designed to prevent them from contracting the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
To achieve the DNA alterations, Professor He used the technique CRISPR (Clustered regularly-interspaced short palindromic repeats), as Digital Journal has reported (see: "Is CRISPR technology set to change biological science?”), CRISPR is a type of biological cut-and-paste technology which enables scientists to detect a gene defect within living cells and then to apply molecular “scissors” to make alterations to genes.
The announcement led to widespread criticism from the international scientific community, including from Dr. Jennifer Doudna (UC Berkeley) who is the co-inventor of CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology (see "Co-creator of gene editing speaks out on CRISPR embryo research"). At the same time there was speculation that the Chinese government was not happy that the experiments had gone ahead.
This concern now appears to have manifest into action, according to The New York Times. The news outlet reports that Professor He being detained, along with this family, in his home in the Chinese city of Shenzhen. TechCrunch adds that armed guards have been seen outside of the He family home.
So far, there has been no official announcement from the Chinese authorities of from Professor He's startup or the university where he is employed.
More about Embryo, Crispr, Gene editing, Genetics, Babies
More news from
Latest News
Top News