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Chinese researcher jailed for practicing gene-editing

Scientist claiming to be behind world's first gene-edited babies accused of violating medical order, ethical principles

Zehra Nur Duz   | 30.12.2019
Chinese researcher jailed for practicing gene-editing


A Chinese biologist and two researchers from his team were sentenced to prison for illegally altering genes in human embryos, according to local media.

A court in south China's Shenzhen city on Monday sentenced He Jiankui, a former associate professor with the Southern University of Science and Technology, to three years in prison and fined him 3 million yuans (about $430,000) for illegally conducting "human embryo gene-editing", according to state-run news agency Xinhua.

Jiankui’s scientific work led to the births of three genetically-altered babies, he claimed.

Announcing the birth of the world's first such babies in November 2018, Jiankui argued that the infants' genes had been changed in order to immunize them to HIV.

Authorities immediately launched an inquiry after Jiankui's announcement, which created shockwaves among scientists.

Two other researchers, Zhang Renli and Qin Jinzho, from two medical institutes in Guangdong Province got two years and 18 months each in prison with a two-year reprieve and a fine, according to the Xinhua.

The three convicts were not licensed to work as doctors during their activities, according to the court decision, it added.

They are accused of deliberately "violating the country's regulations and ethical principles to practice gene editing", adding their activities seriously "disrupted medical order".

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