China suspends scientist who tweaked human gene
"The case, as media have reported, is a blatant violation of China's laws and regulations, and it breaks the bottom line of academic morality and ethics," said Xu Nanping, vice-minister of science and technology
A Chinese researcher, who claimed to have created the world's first gene-edited babies that are resistant to HIV, has been suspended from any scientific activity amid mounting criticism at home and abroad about the controversial experiment, according to media reports.
In a fertilised human-egg cell, the scientist, He Jiankui, intends to make a person resistant to HIV by disabling a gene that forms a protein doorway allowing the virus to enter the body. "The case, as media have reported, is a blatant violation of China's laws and regulations, and it breaks the bottom line of academic morality and ethics," said Xu Nanping, vice-minister of science and technology.
"It's shocking and unacceptable," Xu was quoted as saying in the interview. Xu said the ministry had ordered authorities to suspend all scientific activity of people involved with the case and mete out punishments after an ongoing investigation.
He, an associate professor at the Shenzhen-based Southern University of Science and Technology, announced on Monday that twin girls, Lulu and Nana, were born healthy earlier this month after in vitro fertilisation (IVF). Gene-editing technology had been used to immunise them from HIV, he claimed. The news aroused widespread criticism, both for its ethics, flaws and the necessity of such a procedure to prevent AIDS.
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