Secret DNA Editing Reported

( He Jiankui, a Chinese scientist, imprisoned after claiming to have produced the first gene-edited human offspring in 2018, announced on Friday that he will give a speech at Oxford University in England in early 2023.

He was the head scientist on the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen team that shocked the world in November 2018 by revealing they had altered the DNA of unborn human offspring using the CRISPR gene-editing technique. He claimed one of the volunteer couples for the trial had produced twin baby girls.

He said the infant girls were genetically altered to be highly immune to the HIV that their father carried. Scientists from all around the world denounced his team for utilizing CRISPR to modify human genomes carelessly. He sought to publish articles outlining his work, but international scientific journals rejected them.

Another of the ladies in He’s trials gave birth to a third purportedly genetically altered child. He has never been able to independently verify his statements because none of the three kids have ever been publicly named.

He vanished in December 2018, just after discussing his work at a symposium in Hong Kong, indicating that the Chinese government was also upset.

Chinese authorities initially denied involvement, but it was discovered that he was sentenced to three years in prison along with two other squad members. The three were accused of engaging in “illegal medical practice,” which was viewed as a measure of compassion compared to the much more serious accusations that could have been brought against them.

He was released in April 2022, despite claims to the contrary made by Chinese state media in the spring of 2022. Early in November, he announced that he had established a Beijing office and nonprofit laboratory and would be working to create accessible gene therapies for uncommon diseases, citing Duchenne muscular dystrophy as one example.

He thanked St. Cross College fellow Prof. Eben Kirksey of the University of Oxford in a post on the social media site Weibo. According to Kirksey, he will discuss whether it is possible to establish “ethical and fair” norms for human gene editing.

In May 2022, he took part in a teleconference organized by the Global Observatory for Genome Editing about his usage of CRISPR on human beings.