How the news of China’s gene-edited babies blew up

He Jiankui. Image: Reuters

He Jiankui didn’t wake up on Sunday [November 25]  expecting his world to change. … He knew international attention was coming for him, and he had a plan.

Then Antonio Regalado, biomedicine editor at MIT Technology Review, ruined it. On a recent trip to China, Regalado heard rumors that He’s lab at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen was undertaking research on gene-editing human fetuses. …

Hours after Regalado published his story, Marilynn Marchione of the AP published her reporting on He’s work. Marchione, unlike Regalado, had received early access to He’s work, and her reporting confirmed that He had helped make the world’s first gene-edited babies … . Marchione, like Regalado, spoke to scientists who considered He’s experiment unethical.


Related article:  Viewpoint: Public supports CRISPR, gene drives to battle infectious disease, plant pests—despite activist opposition

All this happened in a few hours, and it was one of the most highly produced medical-science announcements I’ve seen in six years of reporting on the subject. I’ve come to expect organizations like NASA to have such high-value production for their multi-million or multi-billion space programs, but not a small lab in a little-known university.

Nevertheless, the backlash was immediate. Almost universally, scientists were opposed to He’s experiments. He’s videos suggest he expected and accepts some amount of criticism, but it doesn’t seem like he prepared for the level of scrutiny that follows this sort of publicity.


Read full, original post: The Crispr baby news was carefully orchestrated PR—until it all went wrong

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
GLP Podcasts
Infographic: Deaths from COVID-19 are far higher than reported estimates

Infographic: Deaths from COVID-19 are far higher than reported estimates

More than 2.8 million people have lost their lives due to the pandemic, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend