Chinese scientist says a second pregnancy is underway


Organisers of the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing also said they had not known about He's work.

He, who studied at Rice University in Texas and Stanford University in California, is expected to speak at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong on Wednesday where further evidence may be presented.

Earlier, He stunned the scientists just as they were gathering for the historic meeting with his claim, which he outlined in a series of YouTube videos, bypassing scientific norms of first subjecting his experiment to scientific scrutiny by other scientists.

"First, I must apologize that this result was leaked unexpectedly", He told some 700 attendees.

One of the ethical guidelines involved in gene editing is restricting its use to only addressing medical needs which can not be effectively treated through other means. A day earlier, 122 Chinese scientists working at top national and worldwide academic institutions called the experiment "crazy".

He's scientific talk chronicled the development of this line of research, from early mouse experiments to primates and eventually a human clinical trial.

The Chair of the Summit, Nobel Laureate David Baltimore, spoke from the floor after the panel session.

A scientist in China claims to have produced the world's first genome-edited babies by altering their DNA to increase their resistance to HIV.

He said his job was to be "transparent, open and share the knowledge I accumulated to society, to the world, and then, let society decide what it should do in the next step".

"I think there has been a failure of self-regulation by the scientific community because of a lack of transparency", he added. "There is a standard protocol for treating the mother who is not HIV-positive", Zhang said.

He says he altered the DNA of twin girls when they were conceived to try to help them resist possible future infection with the AIDS virus. "In fact there is not only very little chance these babies would be in need of a benefit, given their low risk, but there is no way to evaluate if this indeed conferred any benefit". Both cause tremendous suffering, are hard to treat effectively, and in rare cases are certain to be passed to any biological children, says Harvard Medical School Dean George Daley, a stem cell scientist.

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The particular method used is common in lab research but not precise or controlled enough for embryos, said Columbia University cell biologist Dietrich Egli, who called it "essentially genome vandalism".

But Daley argued that a consensus was a emerging that "if we can solve the scientific challenges, it may be a moral imperative that it should be permitted".

Earlier on Monday, a group of more than 120 Chinese scientists signed a letter condemning the gene editing, describing the work as "crazy" and "unethical". Porteus said he discouraged He and told him "that it was irresponsible, that he could risk the entire field of gene editing by doing this in a cavalier fashion".

No independent outsiders know yet, which is partly why scientists are so disturbed.

The gene editing involved knocking out a protein called CCR5 that HIV uses to enter the immune system and Dr Feng said removing that protein could leave children vulnerable to West Nile virus.

Many fear that editing human embryos will create a slippery slope to eugenics.

He is now facing investigation by a local medical ethics board to see whether his experiment broke Chinese laws or regulations. Opposing the opinion of the medical community, however, a recent study by the Sun Yat-Sen University in China found that around 60% of Chinese people have a favorable view of gene editing for disease therapy.

The National Health Commission said on Monday that it was "highly concerned" and had ordered provincial health officials "to immediately investigate and clarify the matter".

CRISPR-Cas9 is a tool for making precise edits in DNA, discovered in bacteria.

CRISPR is a molecular tool that allows scientists to edit sections of DNA.

But making changes in human DNA that could be passed down for generations has always been considered off-limits.