International investigation sought into gene-edited embryo claims


  • Mary Corcoran
  • Univadis Medical News
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A university in China is seeking an investigation into claims that a scientist attached to the institution has carried out genetic editing on human embryos. 

Earlier this week, Dr Jiankui He said healthy twin girls had been born whose genes had been edited using CRISPR/Cas9 protein to prevent them from contracting HIV. Dr He presented his work at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing on Wednesday, however, it has not been published in any journal. 

The Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech), to which Dr He is attached, said this week that it was “deeply shocked” by the event. 

It added that neither the University nor the Department of Biology were aware of the research project by Dr He, who has been on unpaid leave from the University since February. 

“The SUSTech Department of Biology Academic Committee believes that Dr Jiankui He’s conduct in utilising CRISPR/Cas9 to edit human embryos has seriously violated academic ethics and codes of conduct,” it said. 

The University said it will call for international experts to form an independent committee to investigate this incident, and publicly publish the results. 

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