Chinese scientist He Jiankui defends ‘world’s first gene-edited babies’

Source: BBC

A Chinese scientist who claims to have created the world’s first genetically edited babies has defended his work.

Speaking at a genome summit in Hong Kong, He Jiankui said he was “proud” of altering the genes of twin girls so they cannot contract HIV.

His work, which he announced earlier this week, has not been verified.

Many scientists have condemned his announcement, with one labelling it monstrous. Such gene-editing work is banned in most countries.

Prof He’s university – the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen – said it was unaware of the research project and would launch an investigation.

Prof He confirmed the university was not aware, adding he had funded the experiment by himself.

What has the scientist claimed?

Prof He announced earlier this week that he had altered the DNA of embryos – twin girls – to prevent them from contracting HIV.

On Wednesday, Prof He spoke at the Human Genome Editing Summit at the University of Hong Kong for the first time about his work since the uproar.

He revealed that the twin girls – known as “Lulu” and “Nana” – were “born normal and healthy”, adding that there were plans to monitor the twins over the next 18 years.

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