Did China’s government fund the controversial ‘CRISPR babies’ experiment?

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He Jiankui. Image credit: Mark Schiefelbein/AP
He Jiankui. Image credit: Mark Schiefelbein/AP

Three government institutions in China, including the nation’s science ministry, may have funded the “CRISPR babies” study that led to the birth last November of two genetically modified twin girls, according to documents reviewed by STAT.

These findings appear to support what many researchers inside and outside China have suspected since scientist He Jiankui revealed the births in late November, sparking international condemnation for violating scientific guidelines against the use of gene-edited human embryos to start pregnancies. …

If the documents are correct, they would suggest China is supporting research that the U.S. and other countries consider unethical, and raise doubts about the preliminary conclusion of a government investigation that He acted mostly on his own.

Related article:  Human-monkey chimeras created in China in quest to grow transplantable human organs

It’s not clear, however, whether the institutions knew how their grants would be used. …

The university and the Shenzhen government denied any knowledge of He’s CRISPR babies work soon after it was revealed. In an email on Sunday, the science ministry told STAT that, “based on the preliminary investigation, it did not fund He’s activities of human genome editing.” The Shenzhen innovation commission did not respond to a request for comment, and neither did He Jiankui.

Read full, original post: Chinese government funding may have been used for ‘CRISPR babies’ project, documents suggest

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