Scientists call for oversight after Chinese researcher claims first gene-edited baby

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More than 100 scientists signed a petition calling for greater oversight of gene editing following a Chinese researcher’s claim Monday that he helped create the first genetically edited babies. 

Southern University of Science and Technology of China’s He Jiankui said he altered the DNA of twin girls born earlier this month in order to help them resist future infection from AIDS, The Associated Press reports.

No one has independently confirmed the claims, according to the news agency, and the result has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. 

{mosads}Scientists and experts expressed concern after the report, and more than 100 scientists signed a petition calling for greater oversight on gene-editing experiments.

The university has said it will hire investigators to dig into He’s claims.

The institution said that if He is telling the truth, his work would have “seriously violated academic ethics and standards.”

He’s spokesman said he is still a member of the faculty and has a lab at the university, though he has been on leave from teaching since earlier this year.

Local authorities are also investigating He’s work.

In addition, Rice University is working to uncover the involvement of physics professor Michael Deem, who has said he worked with He on the project in China.

The experiment He reportedly performed is illegal in the U.S.

“Regardless of where it was conducted, this work as described in press reports violates scientific conduct guidelines and is inconsistent with ethical norms of the scientific community and Rice University,” Rice told the news agency in a statement.

Tags Bioethics China DNA gene editing genetic editing He Jiankui research Rice University science Southern University of Science and Technology of China

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