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Controversial Chinese gene-editing scientist downplays reports suggesting he could face death penalty

| | January 10, 2019

This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

The Chinese scientist who shocked the world in November by announcing that twin girls had been born from embryos that he had created using genome editing has told two Western colleagues that, contrary to a flurry of reports that he is under house arrest and possibly even facing the death penalty, he is “actually doing quite well here.”

In an email and a phone conversation, He Jiankui of Southern University of Science and Technology told the two scientists, who attended the “CRISPR babies” announcement at the International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong, that he is able to read Western news reports about himself, including some earlier this week that he might be facing the death penalty…

Related article:  Viewpoint: We need 'public buy-in' before moving forward on human gene editing

In fact, He told Stanford University neuroscientist and bioethicist Dr. William Hurlbut, he is staying in a university apartment in the city of Shenzhen “by mutual agreement” but is free to leave the apartment…

He is being investigated by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology for possible violations of laws prohibiting certain experiments on human embryos. It is not clear whether the country’s “Ethical Guidelines for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research,” passed in 2003, apply to He’s experiment…

He has told Hurlbut and others that he was aware of the guidelines and does not believe they apply to his experiment.

Read full, original post: ‘CRISPR babies’ scientist: ‘I’m actually doing quite well’

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