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Misconduct

He Jiakui sentenced to prison for human embryo editing

by Ryan Cross
January 3, 2020 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 98, ISSUE 1

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Credit: National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine/Flickr
He Jiankui at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong on Nov. 27, 2018



A Chinese court has sentenced scientist He Jiankui to prison and a fine for his experiments that led to the birth of the first human babies altered with CRISPR gene editing. He shocked the world when he announced the birth of gene-edited twins in November 2018, and again when he said another pregnancy was underway. The experiment was condemned for meager scientific merit and lack of ethical oversight. Last January, Chinese government investigators said that He had forged a document suggesting that the experiment was approved by an ethics board. China’s state media agency, Xinhua, reported Dec. 30, 2019, that the Nanshan District People’s Court of Shenzhen sentenced He to 3 years in prison and a ¥3 million ($430,000) fine. Two collaborators, Zhang Renli and Qin Jinzhou, were sentenced to smaller terms and fines. The court said the scientists “craved fame and fortune, and deliberately went against the country’s regulations,” according to the South China Morning Post.

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