He Jiankui, Scientist behind First Gene-Edited Babies Fired from Chinese University
Asia, Science

He Jiankui, Scientist behind First Gene-Edited Babies Fired from Chinese University 

A university in China has ended the employment of Chinese Scientist He Jiankui two months after he claimed to have created the world’s first babies based on the gene-editing technology.

At the International Summit of Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong, Jiankui had submitted his work on baby gene-editing in November.

Government investigators investigated the whole experiment and claimed that Jiankui’s experiment had violated regulations and may incur criminal repercussions. He violated “ethical principles and scientific integrity,” as per the probe.

Following the probe, the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTC) in Shenzhen fired He Jiankui. He’s employment, teaching post and research, all have been terminated by SUSTC. According to the university, He was on unpaid leave. The university also denied the knowledge about his research.

He Jiankui claimed to have used a precise gene-editing technique CRISP-Case 9 in order to engineer a pair of embryos and make them resistant to HIV.

According to the state-run news agency Xinhua, He performed the experiment “on his own” and “in the pursuit of personal fame.”

Last year in November, when the experiment came out and He announced to have created a pair of genetically-altered twins – whom he referred as “Nana” and “Lulu” – He said he was “proud” of his creation and second pregnancy was underway. The science and technology world condemned his experiment.

His work was called unethical and was said to generate genetic consequences in the future for the subjects of the experiment and the later generations.

Following the announcement on the success of his work, the World Health Organisation (WHO) called for clearer boundaries to be established in the “uncharted water” of genome editing. Genetically-edited embryos of humans are to be destroyed within a few days, as per the regulations in the UK, US, China and other countries.

He Jiankui was recently found living secretly in a university dormitory, after he disappeared last year.


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