Chinese scientist He Jiankui shocked the world by claiming he had helped make the first gene-edited babies. One year later, mystery surrounds his fate as well as theirs.
He has not been seen publicly since January, his work has not been published and nothing is known about the health of the babies.
“That’s the story — it’s all cloaked in secrecy, which is not productive for the advance of understanding,” said Stanford bioethicist Dr. William Hurlbut.
The report said the twins and people involved in a second pregnancy using a gene-edited embryo would be monitored by government health departments. Nothing has been revealed about the third baby, which should have been born from that second pregnancy in late summer.
Chinese officials have seized the remaining edited embryos and He’s lab records.
A moratorium is no longer strong enough, and regulation is needed, CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley recently wrote in a commentary in the journal Science.
She noted that the World Health Organization has asked regulators in all countries not to allow such experiments, and that a Russian scientist recently proposed one.
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