Chinese Scientist Claims First Gene Edited Babies
A Chinese scientist claims he successfully created the world's first genetically-edited babies.
Chinese researcher He Jiankui made the claim in interviews with the Associated Press. He also spoke about his research with organizers of an international conference on gene editing in Hong Kong, the AP reported.
He is a research professor at China's Southern University of Science and Technology in the southern city of Shenzhen.
He said he had edited the genetic substance, or DNA, of twin girls born a few weeks ago. There was no independent confirmation of He's work and he did not provide written documentation of his research. Many scientists working in genetics say they believe such experimentation is dangerous.
He's claims were immediately condemned by some scientists as unsafe and unethical. This kind of gene editing is banned in the United States and many other countries. Such changes to a person's DNA can pass to future generations and risks harming other genes.
In interviews, He Jiankui defended his work. He said he had performed the gene editing to help protect the babies from future infection of HIV, the virus responsible for the disease AIDS. He said the process had "worked safely" and the twin girls were "as healthy as any other babies."
He told the AP he felt a strong responsibility "not just to make a first, but also to make an example" for future research. "Society will decide what to do next," he said.
China to investigate He's activity
He had studied in the past at Rice and Stanford universities in the United States. He then returned to his homeland China to open a laboratory at Southern University of Science and Technology.
When He's claims became public, the university issued a statement saying his work had "seriously violated academic ethics and standards." University officials said they had no knowledge of his research and had launched an investigation. A university spokesman said the professor had been on a break from teaching since early this year. But he remains an employee and still works in the laboratory.
China's National Health Commission said it was "highly concerned" about the claims and ordered local health officials "to immediately investigate" He's activity. "We have to be responsible for the people's health and will act on this according to the law," the commission said in a statement.
Limited use of gene-editing
Scientists discovered in recent years a new way to edit genes that make up a person's DNA throughout the body. The tool, called CRISPR-cas9, makes it possible to change DNA to supply a needed gene or take one away that is causing problems.
So far the tool has only been used on adults to treat deadly diseases, and the changes only affected that person. Editing sperm, eggs or embryos is different because such changes can be passed down. In the U.S., the process is only permitted for lab research. China bans human cloning, but not specifically gene editing.
Kiran Musunuru is a University of Pennsylvania gene editing expert and editor of a genetics journal. He told the Associated Press that if such an experiment had been carried out on human beings, it could not be "morally or ethically defensible."
Julian Savulescu, a medical ethics expert at Britain's University of Oxford, agreed. "If true, this experiment is monstrous," he told Reuters.
However, one well-known geneticist, Harvard University's George Church, defended the attempt to edit genes to prevent infections of HIV. He told the AP that since HIV is "a major and growing public health threat" he finds such experiments "justifiable."
I'm Anna Mateo.
1.public health 公共安全
The fund is earmarked for public health services.
2.carried out 实施
Forensic experts carried out a painstaking search of the debris.
3.So far 目前
So far we haven't been able to find anything, but we're still researching.
4.according to 通过
She bagged a fabulous fortune according to the will.
5.Editing sperm, eggs or embryos is different because such changes can be passed down.
passed down 遗传；传承
The story has been passed down by word of mouth.
This custom has been passed down since the 18th century.
6.He told the AP he felt a strong responsibility "not just to make a first, but also to make an example" for future research.
make an example 树立榜样；举例子
How could you make an example for others if you cannot behave yourself properly.
On Monday, she asked me to make an example of a crossword puzzle.
中国研究人员贺建奎（He Jiankui）接受美联社采访时发表了上述声明 。据美联社报道，他还与香港基因编辑国际会议的组织者提及这份研究 。
他称，他编辑了数周前出生的一对双胞胎女婴的基因物质（DNA） 。贺建奎的研究成果目前没有得到独立的证实，他也没有提供有关这项研究的书面文件 。很多从事遗传学研究的科学家表示，他们认为这种实验有很高的风险 。
他的声明立刻招致了一些科学家们的讨伐，称这是不安全和不道德的 。这种基因编辑在美国等其它很多国家都被禁止 。编辑后的人类基因会遗传给后代，而且有可能损害其它基因 。
贺建奎在采访中为自己的研究辩护 。他说，他进行的这项基因编辑研究，旨在帮助婴儿免受艾滋病毒（HIV）的感染 。艾滋病毒会导致艾滋病（AIDS） 。他说，这一过程“十分安全”，这对双胞胎女婴“跟其他婴儿一样健康 。”
贺建奎告诉美联社，他觉得有责任“开创历史先河，并且为未来的研究树立榜样 。”他说：“社会将决定下一步的发展方向 。”
贺建奎曾在美国赖斯大学以及斯坦福大学深造 。之后，他回到了祖国，并在中国南方科技大学创建了一处实验室 。
当贺建奎的声明公开后，中国南方科技大学发表声明称，他的研究“严重违反了学术伦理规范 。”校方官员声称，对这一研究不知情，并已经对此展开调查 。校方一位发言人表示，自年初以来，该教授一直暂停教学 。但他仍然是该大学的员工，仍然在该实验室工作 。
中国国家卫生健康委员会对此表示高度重视，并责令当地卫生官员立即对贺建奎的研究展开调查 。该委员会表示：“我们必须对广大人民的健康负责，并将依法采取行动 。”
近年来，科学家们发现了一种新方法，可以编辑构成人体DNA的基因 。这种名为CRISPR-cas9的工具或可以改变DNA来提供所需基因或是抹除某种致病基因 。
目前，该工具仅限于治疗成年人的致命疾病，并且这种改变只会影响本人 。而编辑精子、卵子或是胚胎则另当别论，因为这种改变会遗传 。在美国，该过程仅限于进行实验室研究 。中国虽然禁止人类克隆，但是并未具体针对基因编辑 。
基兰（Kiran Musunuru）是宾夕法尼亚大学的基因编辑专家，也是遗传学杂志的编辑 。他对美联社表示，如果这类实验在人类身上进行，就不可能在“道德和伦理上”站得住脚 。
牛津大学医学伦理专家朱利安（Julian Savulescu）对此表示认同 。他说：“如果这是真的，那这个实验太可怕了 。”
然而，哈佛大学一位著名的遗传学专家乔治（George Church）对编辑基因防止艾滋病感染的意图进行了辩护 。他告诉美联社，鉴于艾滋病毒是“一种日益严重的重大公共卫生威胁，”他认为这种实验是“合理的 。”