In Depth

For China, a CRISPR first goes too far

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Science  07 Dec 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6419, pp. 1091
DOI: 10.1126/science.362.6419.1091

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The report of the live birth of twin baby girls with genetically engineered genomes caused an uproar around the world. Some of the criticism focused on China's allegedly permissive research ethics. Chinese scientists resent that characterization, but the incident has set off debate within the country over its regulation of biomedical research. The researcher, He Jiankui of the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, allegedly violated a provision in a regulation that came into effect in 2003, long before gene editing became a common research tool. China's scientists and ethicists are now calling for new or revised regulations. But some researchers fear a backlash provoked by one group that deliberately ignored existing regulations could result in new rules that will burden even ethical scientists.