China has sentenced scientist He Jiankui to three years in prison for conducting experiments on genetically modified babies. The court said Jiankui's team "exceeded the moral threshold."
A Chinese court has sentenced scientist He Jiankui to three years in prison and a fine of 3 million yuan (about $ 430.000) for experiments on modified baby genes.
Two of his colleagues, who were a group, were also convicted with him. His first colleague, Zhang Renli, was fined 1 million yuan (about $ 143.000) and sentenced to two years in prison, while his second, Qin Jinzhou, was fined 500.000 yuan (about $ 71.000) and sentenced to 18 months in prison. two-year suspension.
According to the state-run Xinhua news agency"The three defendants did not have the appropriate certification to practice medicine and, in pursuit of fame and fortune, deliberately violated national regulations in the field of scientific research and medical care."
Jiankui became famous when it announced in November 2018 that he made the first genetically modified babies in the world, the twin girls Lula and Nana, using the CRISPR / Cas9 tool for gene processing. This type of work is prohibited in the US. and in other countries because of the ethical concerns of handling human embryos, as well as the risk it poses as it can create unintended side effects that could be passed on to future generations.
The scientific team in China was strongly criticized for the project, and was then fired from its positions at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen.
The experiment, the scientists said, aimed to give babies immunity to the HIV virus by altering the CCR5 gene, which is thought to affect HIV resistance. Although they all have two copies of each gene (one from each parent), the researchers noted that only one copy of the gene was processed.