China halts human gene editing in wake of controversial trial resulting in birth of twins

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Organizers of the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing denounced He Jiankui's gene editing of human embryos. Image credit: AFP/ Anthony Wallace

The Chinese government on Thursday ordered a temporary halt to research activities for people involved in the editing of human genes, after a Chinese scientist said he had edited the genes of twin babies.

Scientist He Jiankui said this week that he used a gene-editing technology known as CRISPR-Cas9 to alter the embryonic genes of the twin girls born this month.

He’s announcement, which has not been verified, sparked an international outcry about the ethics and safety of such research.

“The nature of this incident is extremely nasty, and relevant bodies have been ordered to temporarily halt the scientific research activities of relevant personnel,” the state news agency Xinhua said, citing the health ministry, science and technology ministry and China Association for Science and Technology.

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Related article:  Controversial Chinese scientist defends gene-edited babies: 'I feel proud'

“Even if the modifications are verified, the procedure was irresponsible and failed to conform with international norms,” the organizing committee of the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing, being held in Hong Kong this week, said in a statement.

He’s filing to a Chinese clinical trials database indicates that a hospital did an ethical review of the project, but the hospital involved denied that its ethics review committee ever met to discuss the work.

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He said after his presentation on Wednesday he was proud of what he had done.

Read full, original post: China orders halt to gene-editing after outcry over babies

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