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Chinese scientists have assured that there is a second pregnancy with genetically modified babies




Chinese scientist He Jiankui intervened during a conference on genome research in Hong Kong Credit: DPA / S.C. Leung

HONG KONG (AP) – Chinese researcher who
He said he helped create the first genetically engineered baby in the world, announcing today that there might be a second pregnancy that develops.

He Jiankui, a 34-year-old professor in the southern city of Shenzhen, revealed the possibility of pregnancy in his first public statement about his controversial work at an international conference in Hong Kong.

He said that it changed DNA
Two twins were born early in the month to try to make them immune to the AIDS virus. The scientific community condemned the experiment, and universities and government groups were investigating the situation.

The second possible pregnancy is in the very early phase and more time is needed to confirm whether it will continue, he said.

After He spoke, leading scientists said there were now more reasons than had ever been feared and more questions than answers. The conference director described the experiment as "irresponsible", noting that it was proof that the scientific community had failed to regulate itself and avoid the first attempt to change DNA.

Changing DNA before or at conception is a very controversial problem because changes can be inherited and can damage other genes. This practice is banned in several countries, including the United States, except in the case of laboratory research.

I have defended the choice of HIV rather than the deadly congenital disease to try genetic editing, and insisted that girls could benefit.

"They need this protection because there are no vaccines available," the researchers said. But scientists disagree with their approach.

"This is truly unacceptable progress," said Jennifer Doudna, a scientist at the University of California-Berkeley and one of the inventors of the CRISPR gene editing tool she used. "I am grateful he appeared today, but I don't think we have heard the answer, we need to understand the motivation for this."

Doudna was paid for by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which also supports the Department of Medicine and Science from The Associated Press.

At present there is no independent confirmation of the statement of He, who has not published his research in any scientific journal that can be tested by experts. At the conference, He refused to answer many questions, including those who paid for work, how he made sure that the participants understood the possible risks and benefits and why he kept his work secret.

Regulators rushed to condemn the experiment as unethical and unscientific.

The Chinese National Health Commission ordered local officials in Guangdong province to investigate Mr. He's actions and the center where he worked, the South University of Science and Technology, also studied what happened.


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