Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Designer Babies' Claim Sparks Fury; EXPERTS CONDEMN 'MONSTROUS AND UNETHICAL' REPORT OF DNA GENE EDITING Possible Breakthrough but British Experts Condemn 'Monstrous Stunt' with Genes

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Designer Babies' Claim Sparks Fury; EXPERTS CONDEMN 'MONSTROUS AND UNETHICAL' REPORT OF DNA GENE EDITING Possible Breakthrough but British Experts Condemn 'Monstrous Stunt' with Genes

Article excerpt

Byline: Ross Lydall Health Editor

A CHINESE researcher who claimed to have helped to create the world's first genetically edited babies was today fiercely criticised by UK experts.

He Jiankui said twin girls Lulu and Nana had been born after having their DNA "edited" in a bid to protect them from HIV.

Fertility expert Professor Robert Winston condemned it as a "really shocking episode" that risked creating "mutant babies".

Others described the experiment as "monstrous", "despicable" and a "publicity stunt", and said it put the girls' health at risk.

Lord Winston told the Standard: "These children have undergone an experiment and can't give informed consent. This is totally unethical.

"There is no question that what these people have done if they have done this is dangerous, highly dangerous. The chance of getting a mutant baby is very high indeed."

Details of Mr He's work emerged this morning in an interview with the Associated Press, although this afternoon doubt was being cast on his claims, also made in a YouTube video, as several organisations, including a hospital, denied involvement. Mr He said he had altered embryos for seven couples who had agreed to the procedures in exchange for free fertility treatment. He said 11 Continued on Page 7 Continued from Page 1 embryos were used in six attempts before the twin pregnancy resulted. One twin had both copies of her intended gene altered and the other had just one meaning she could still contract HIV.

The girls were reportedly born in the city of Shenzhen, where Mr He has a lab at Southern University of Science and Technology of China and two genetics companies.

The university said it had been unaware of the work and was investigating. It said Mr He had been on leave without pay since February, and described the work as a "serious violation of academic ethics and standards".

It is illegal in the UK and most other countries to implant edited embryos in a woman, but editing in the laboratory for research is permitted.

Mr He said his aim had been to bestow an ability in humans to resist HIV infection.

"I feel a strong responsibility that it's not just to make a first, but also make it an example," he told the news agency. …

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