Leading Scientists Hit Out at China’s Baby Gene-Editing Experiment

A group of the world’s leading genetic scientists has criticized the “deeply disturbing” claim from a Chinese researcher that he helped make the world’s first gene-edited babies. Scientists gathered in Hong Kong this week for an international conference on gene-editing, but the meeting was rocked by the claim from Chinese researcher He Jiankui that twin girls born this month had their DNA edited to make them resistant to HIV. A statement issued Thursday by the conference leaders says the experiment should only be carried out in a lab because “the risks too great” to allow clinical trials. “At this summit, we heard an unexpected and deeply disturbing claim that human embryos had been edited and implanted, resulting in a pregnancy and the birth of twins,” read the statement. The leaders have asked for an assessment to verify the claim, but said, even if the researcher had succeeded, the experiment was “irresponsible and failed to conform with international norms.”