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Scientist who edited babies’ genes is likely to face charges in China

The investigators’ findings indicate that the scientist, He Jiankui, and his collaborators are likely to face criminal charges.

A Chinese scientist who claimed to have created the world’s first genetically edited babies “seriously violated” state regulations, according to the results of an initial government investigation reported Monday by Chinese state media.

The investigators’ findings indicate that the scientist, He Jiankui, and his collaborators are likely to face criminal charges.

He shocked the world in November when he announced that he had used Crispr, a powerful gene-editing technique, to alter the genes of human embryos. He produced some data but no definitive proof during his presentation at an international conference in Hong Kong.

The investigation found that he and his team had edited the genes of human embryos and then implanted the embryos in female volunteers, as he claimed last year. One volunteer gave birth to twin girls in November, and another volunteer is now pregnant, according to Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency.

He’s announcement raised ethical concerns about the long-term effects of such genetic alterations, which if successful would be inherited by the child’s progeny, and whether other scientists would be emboldened to try their own gene-editing experiments.

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