SHANGHAI: The organizer of the conference in which a Chinese scientist claimed to have edited the genes of twins condemned the work on Thursday (November 29), calling it "very disturbing" and "irresponsible".
"Even if modifications are verified, the procedure is irresponsible and fails to conform to international norms," the organizing committee of the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing, held in Hong Kong this week, said in a statement released via email and posted on line.
The statement called for an independent assessment of claims by Chinese scientist He Jiankui on Wednesday that he used the editing technology of a gene known as CRISPR-Cas9 to change the embryonic genes of twins born this month.
His announcement, which has not been verified, sparked international condemnation of the ethics and security of such research.
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Chinese scientists have condemned the work. The South University of Science and Technology, where he is on leave from his position as a professor, has announced an investigation.
The Guangdong Provincial Health Commission said on its website on Wednesday and the city of Shenzhen had formed a team to investigate the case. He submitted to the Chinese clinical trial database showing that the hospital conducted an ethical review of the project, but the hospital involved denied that the ethics review committee had ever met to discuss the work.
He said after the presentation on Wednesday, he was proud of what he had done.
The presidents of the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the US National Academy of Medicine (NAM) also expressed concern about his work. Their statement was emailed on Thursday but the date is Tuesday.
"The events in Hong Kong this week clearly show the need for us to develop more specific standards and principles that can be agreed upon by the international scientific community," NAS president Marcia McNutt and NAM president Victor Dzau said.
(Reporting by Alexandra Harney; Editing by Paul Tait)