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China to Gene Researcher: Stop Your Work

Investigation underway into He Jiankui's claims to have altered the DNA of newborn twins
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 29, 2018 7:33 AM CST
He Jiankui, a Chinese researcher, speaks during the Human Genome Editing Conference in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018.   (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
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(Newser) – China has ordered a scientist to stop his controversial work after his bombshell claim about creating the world's first gene-edited babies. Chinese Vice Minister of Science and Technology Xu Nanping said Thursday that He Jiankui's work "crossed the line of morality and ethics adhered to by the academic community and was shocking and unacceptable," per the AP. Xu also said an investigation is underway, though its scope is unclear. He has defended his work, though he bowed out of a speaking engagement Thursday at the international gene-editing conference in Hong Kong (he did speak there Wednesday).

"I will remain in China, my home country, and cooperate fully with all inquiries about my work," the researcher said in a statement. "My raw data will be made available for third party review." Meanwhile, the scientists he had been scheduled to address on Thursday also condemned the research. A statement from the 14 conference leaders declared that it's too early to apply the science to eggs, sperm, or embryos outside of the lab environment. In the US, Rice University said it is investigating bioengineering professor Michael Deem, who was He's adviser at the university and reportedly played a role in He's research, reports CNN. (It looks like He's work has led to a second pregnancy.)

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