"Four cell embryo" by Nina Sesina / CC BY-SA 4.0

Chinese gene-editing scientist defends his research, raises possibility of third baby

Dec 3, 2018

By Helen Regan, Rebecca Wright, and Alexandra Field

The Chinese scientist who sparked an international outcry after alleging to have helped create the world’s first genetically edited babies has raised the possibility of a third child being born, after announcing that a separate woman was pregnant at an early stage with a modified embryo.

Speaking in front of a packed hall of about 700 people Wednesday at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing, He Jiankui publicly defended his work, saying he felt “proud” of his achievement.

He, an associate professor at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, sent shock waves through the scientific community on Monday when he announced in a video online that two ostensibly healthy twin girls had been born this month from embryos altered to make them resistant to HIV.

“For this specific case, I feel proud. I feel proudest, because they had lost hope for life,” He said Wednesday of the parents of the twins, the father of whom is believed to carry HIV. “But with this protection, [the father] sent a message saying he will work hard, earn money and take care of his two daughters and his wife.”

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