Chinese authorities are investigating a researcher who claims to have created “genetically-edited babies” in violation of the nation’s laws, the Xinhua news agency reported on Monday. Investigators said a preliminary inquiry found that He Jiankui had “dodged supervision, raised funds and organised researchers on his own to carry out the human embryo gene-editing intended for reproduction”.
The Shenzhen-based University of Science and Technology where He was working has sacked him based on the allegations, Reuters reported. In November 2018, the researcher had claimed that the world’s first genetically-edited babies had been born in Guangdong province, with their DNA altered to prevent them from contracting the HIV virus. The babies were twins.
One volunteer in his experiment is still pregnant.
The Xinhua report said that He “recruited eight volunteer couples [the males tested positive for the HIV antibody, females tested negative for the HIV antibody] and carried out experiments from March 2017 to November 2018”.
Investigators said He had conducted the research in “pursuit of personal fame and gain”.
Officials said the researcher and those found guilty of assisting him would be penalised and that the babies and the pregnant volunteer would be placed under medical observation.