A Chinese scientist in the middle of a controversy over what he claims is the world's first genetically edited child, apologized for Wednesday because the outcome was leaked unexpectedly when he detailed his findings at a conference in Hong Kong.
HONG KONG: A Chinese scientist in the middle of a controversy over what he claims is the world's first genetically edited child said on Wednesday he is proud of his work and revealed that another volunteer is pregnant as part of the research.
Han Jiankui, a lecturer at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, addressed a packed hall of approximately 700 people attending the Human Genome Editing Summit at the University of Hong Kong.
"In this case, I feel proud. I feel proud," he said when challenged by several peers at the conference.
"This study has been submitted to a scientific journal for review," he said. He did not name the newspaper and said that his university did not know his studies.
He, who said his work was self-financed, shook concerns for the research to be conducted in confidentiality and declared that he had engaged the science community for the past three years.
In video published online this week, he said he used a rescue technique called CRISPR-Cas9 to change the embryonic genes of twins born this month.
He said that redecoration would help protect the girls from infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
But researchers and the Chinese government have condemned the work he said he performed, and a hospital linked to his research suggested that ethical approval had been falsified.[[[[
Conference moderator, Robin Lovell-Badge, said that the summit organizers were unaware of the story until it broke this week.
CRISPR-Cas9 is a technique that allows researchers to essentially cut and paste DNA, increasing the hope of genetic fixes for disease. However, there is concern about security and ethics.
More than 100 researchers, most in China, said in an open letter on Tuesday that the use of CRISPR-Cas9 technology to edit the genes of human embryos was dangerous and unfair. "Pandora's box has been opened," they said.
He focuses on genome sequencing technology, bioinformatics and renegotiation, according to his biography on the Summit's website.
He took a doctorate at Rice University in Houston, Texas, and worked as post doctor at Stephen Quake Lab at Stanford University according to the website.
(Reporting by Holly Chik, Farah Master and Anne Marie Roantree; Editing Nick Macfie)