Wednesday , October 5 2022

Recruiting researcher under review of Chinese officials


WASHINGTON – The contest from China was fast and furious.

A Chinese scientist claiming that he helped make the world's first refurbished children is now under investigation by authorities and his own university.

Han Jiankui, a 34-year-old head teacher in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, said his lab used the powerful CRISPR redirection tool to change human embryos – leading to twin girls born earlier this month, he said.

There is not yet any independent confirmation of his statement, but researchers and regulators have been quick to condemn the experiment as unethical and oscientic.

The National Health Commission on Monday ordered local officials in Guangdong Province – where Shenzhen is located – to investigate his actions. China's state transmitter, CCTV, reported Tuesday that if the births were confirmed, his case will be handled "in accordance with relevant laws and regulations." It is not clear if he could face any penalty charges.

He is an employer, Southern University of Science and Technology, said in a statement that it was not informed about his human rehab work and has opened an investigation. The school said he is researching "seriously violated academic ethics and standards."

He also faces probes from the Shenzhen City Medical Ethics Expert Board and the Academy of Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

His research team included his former R & D counselor, physics professor Michael Deem, who is on the scientific advisory boards in two genetic companies. Rice said it has launched a survey of Deem's commitment.

"So far, China's most important response is to condemn and criticize this work," said Jing-Bao Nie, an expert in Chinese bioethics at the University of Otago, New Zealand.

Follow Christina Larson on Twitter: @Larson Christina

AP researcher Fu Ting contributed to this report from Beijing.

This Associated Press series was produced in collaboration with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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