SHANGHAI (BLOOMBERG) – Chinese condemnation of the scientist who said he changed the genes of twin baby girls has reached the fever heights and a senior government official said he broke Chinese law, although the global scientific community was waiting for data to assess the truth about his claims.
Dr. He Jiankui, the Shenzhen-based researcher, has said that he will present his data at an international genetic conference in Hong Kong on Wednesday (28 November).
He shocked the world this week, claiming that the infant was born recently after he changed the genes of the embryos to make them resistant to HIV.
His representatives have not made him available for comments and he did not answer questions via email.
The Chinese scientist's revelations have given allegations of fraud, three investigations in China and talks by prominent Chinese scientists for his punishment.
Harmonicare Medical Holdings, who owns the hospital as the researcher said he was approved for his work, said in an application on Tuesday, November 27, that it believed that signatures on an application to the hospital's medical ethics committee had been discontinued and that the committee had never met to review Dr. Hans suggestion.
Shenzhen Hospital has never participated in the clinical operation related to the reborn infants, and the twins were not born on the plant, "said the company.
Science and Ethics
The state-run Xinhua News Agency reported on Wednesday that the Chinese Union of Life Science Societies, an umbrella of 22 national level associations, said it strongly opposed research that violated the spirit of science and ethics and that Dr. Hans's case had "seriously disturbed the system of scientific research and seriously damaged China's international reputation in the life science area ".
Previously, the Chinese Genetics Society, the Chinese Society of Cell Biology and a group of 122 researchers issued separate statements that condemned Dr. Hans's actions and urged the Chinese government to act.
He is also under investigation by his university, Southern University of Science and Technology and the hospital where he probably had ethical approval for the experiment.
Both bodies said they had no knowledge of the controversial company.
On Tuesday afternoon, in the clearest sign, the Chinese government saw Dr. His project as illegal, deputy science minister Xu Nanping said in a press release that China had banned the use of redevelopment for fertility purposes in 2003.
But Chinese law does not mention the use of Crispr, the revolutionary redaction method that Dr. Han used to change the genetic code of the twins.
By contrast, the US and many other countries have strictly limited Crispr's use.
The recent Chinese government statement, a 2017 document from the Ministry of Science and Technology, said that genetic engineering research poses major risks and calls for rigorous monitoring.
In his Tuesday briefing, Deputy Minister Xu suggested at the internal debate the Chinese government has over how it should regulate flourishing research areas such as biotechnology and artificial intelligence.
China wants to be a leader in the 21st century that defines technology, but salmon regulation risks cases like Dr. Han.
"We are aware that it is a double-edged sword. Sometimes we feel quite anxious," said Dr. Xu.
"To be honest, we still have not fully addressed our thinking. We know there will be some negative, but we do not dare – because there will be negative – to avoid technology or progress."