HONG KONG: A Chinese scientist at the center of an ethical storm over what he claims are the world's first genetically edited babies said yesterday he is proud of his work and revealed that another volunteer is pregnant as part of the research.
Prof. He Jiankui, a associate professor at Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, addressed around 700 people at the Human Genome Editing Summit at the University of Hong Kong.
"For this case, I feel proud, I feel proudest," Prof said.
"This study has been submitted to a scientific journal for review," he said of his self-funded research, without naming the journal. Prof He added that his university was unaware of his study.
A video posted online this week, Prof. He said he used a gene-editing technology known as CRISPR-Cas9 to alter the embryonic genes of twin girls born this month.
He said gene editing would help protect the girls from HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
But scientists and the Chinese government have denounced the supposed finding, and a hospital linked to the research suggested its ethical approval had been forged.
CRISPR-Cas9 allows scientists to cut and paste DNA, raising hope of genetic fixes for disease. However, there are concerns about safety and ethics.
The Chinese Society for Cell Biology on Tuesday strongly condemned any application of gene editing on human embryos for reproductive purposes and said it was against the law and medical ethics of China. – REUTERS