Chinese officials have proclaimed He Jiankui, a scientist who claims to have created the first generation of children in the world, a violation of the Chinese law, and called for the suspension of all related activities.
"The genetically modified incident, which has been reported by the fragile media, has violated China's relevant laws and regulations, and has violated the ethical bottom line that the academic community adheres to." Shockingly unacceptable, "state-wide CCTV Xu Nanping, vice president of science and technology said Thursday.
Xu called for the suspension of any scientific or technological activity from those involved in his work.
The South University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, where he is an associate professor, said he had no knowledge of his research.
The scientist said his project was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Shenzhen Armed Forces Women's and Children's Hospital, which also denied any involvement.
He shocked the global scientific community when he claimed this week to edit an embryo gene that led to the birth of two girls named Lulu and Nan.
However, his work – a byproduct of personal ambition and a vague regulatory environment in a country that has been throwing geniuses for years – did not come as a surprise to everyone.
William Hurlbut, a bioethicist at Stanford University, who last year contacted him at an ethical conference, said: "I knew it was his long-term goal, but I just did not think he would push him so relentlessly .I am concerned that his enthusiasm for what he was doing was so high that he could continue faster than he should … Now the door is open and will never close again. It's like a joint of history. "
He was born to farmers in Hunan Province in 1984, and his family and friends described him as heavily driven and intelligent. In interviews with local media, he said he would rather spend holidays at the lab.
"He was always first in elementary school, high school, university and afterwards. He was never the second ever," said his father, Beijing News. Former colleague He told local media that the three words best described by scientists were "smart, crazy and genius".
"He's a Chinese musk," he said, referring to co-founder Tesla Elon Musk. Other media reports called him the Chinese Einstein.
He, who also goes for his JK initials, has been subject to government and university scholarships to see him through the University of China where he studied physics. He then received a PhD in Physics at Rice University in the United States and completed a postgraduate genome sequencing study at Stanford University.
He returned to China in 2012 as part of the talent recruitment in Shenzhen's technology hub and because he wanted to improve the Chinese research he considered "weak" to his father.
He returned to a country that will soon be head of genetic editing, using technology known as Crispr-Cas9.
China is one of the few countries in the world that are known to have been testing people on Crisp. Since it is already in 2015, patients with cancer have been infused with cellular DNA. Beijing included genetic engineering as a key industry in its five-year science and technology development plan for 2016 through 2020.
The UK and many other countries have forbidden the genetic modification of the baby, which is considered unsafe and unethical, since any changes affect the child's descendants and future generations.
He used the technology to modify the CCR5 gene, the HIV gate, in several IVF-generated embryos for couples with HIV positive babies, presenting it as an HIV vaccine test.
Chinese regulations have not kept pace with scientific discoveries in this area. The only relevant regulations come from the 2003 "Guidance Ethics" document prohibiting the use of any exploratory embryo for reproduction. There are no such penalties for such violations.
He could have kept his work from most of the scientific community. He retrospectively registered a clinical trial with Chinese bodies in November, and after the job was done. A trial-related investigator allegedly said he did not notify all employees involved that his project involved genetic engineering.
"How can a scientific experiment with so much uncertainty be a secret for so long?" Asked He Kaiwen, a researcher at the Interdisciplinary Research Center for Biology and Chemistry in Shanghai, who was one of the groups of more than 120 scientists who issued a statement condemning him work. "This shows that there is a huge problem with the transparency of scientific research."
She added: "This is a whole new situation. This is one of the things we've never faced."
The international scientific community continues to refrain from its claims that it defended Wednesday at a global summit on Hong Kong. The Organizing Committee of the Conference, the International Human Gene Editor's Summit, called scientists' statements "unexpectedly and deeply disturbing" and recommended an independent assessment.
"Even if the changes were verified, the procedure was irresponsible and did not conform to international standards, its inadequacies include inadequate medical indication, poorly designed study protocol, failure to meet ethical standards for the welfare of research subjects, and lack of transparency in the development, review and implementation of clinical procedures, "the Board said. in a statement on Thursday.
Officials from China's National Health Commission promised on Thursday to "explore and deal with all illicit behavior" of Him.
The Government-related Government Science and Technology Association said the incident had "seriously damaged the image and interests" of the Chinese scientific community and expressed the "bitterness and condemnation of the people and institutions involved."
Chinese scientists have called for comprehensive regulation to prevent such research in the future. "Improving any law comes from research," said He Kaiwen. "Something is happening, it reveals the gap and we're fixing it. That's what scientists want us to push the industry in the right direction."
Additional reporting Xueying Wang