In DepthBioethics

Shock greets claim of CRISPR-edited babies

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Science  30 Nov 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6418, pp. 978-979
DOI: 10.1126/science.362.6418.978

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The world's first gene-edited babies were announced early this week not in a scientific publication or at a conference, but in news reports. He Jiankui, of the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, told the Associated Press and explained in several YouTube videos that his team had engineered the genomes of twin baby girls born recently to modify a gene to confer resistance to HIV infection. Because the modification was made to early stage embryos the trait may pass down through the girls' descendants. The announcement drew a firestorm of criticism from around the world as being technologically premature, possibly harmful in unforeseen ways to the babies, and unjustified because there are more efficient and safer ways to prevent HIV infections. Chinese national and local authorities have launched investigations to determine whether He violated any regulations.

  • * With reporting by Jon Cohen.

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