Scientist Who ‘Created World’s First Gene-Edited Babies’ Has Gone Missing
A scientist who claims to have created the world’s first gene-edited babies has gone missing amid rumours that he has been arrested.
Chinese scientist He Jiankui was last seen at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong last Wednesday (November 28).
He was reportedly placed in immediate house arrest following the conference, however these claims have now been called into question.
As reported by the Daily Mail, Jiankui sparked controversy last Monday (November 26), when he announced online that he had successfully used a gene-editing tool to modify the DNA of two embryos. He then reiterated these claims at the conference later that week.
The scientist is an associate professor of the Department of Biology at Shenzhen Southern University of Science and Technology.
After his controversial speech, he was reportedly brought back from Hong Kong to Shenzen by Chen Xiaoyi, the president of the University. It is then people believe he was placed under house arrest.
This is because of Jiankui’s claims that he and a team of researchers had modified the twins’ embryos to effectively ‘switch off’ a HIV-related gene because their father has the virus.
As reported by Apple Daily, this led to the scientific community agreeing that the scientist’s behaviour ‘touched the bottom line of scientific ethics’.
The National Health and Health Commission also pointed out that the experiment violated laws and ethical guidelines and as such, will be investigated and punished by law.
However, when the scientist attended the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing, he said he was ‘proud’ of his achievements.
Furthermore, the South China Morning Post has reported that the University in question has dismissed claims that Jiankui has been detained.
A spokeswoman for the Shenzhen-based Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTC) said:
Right now nobody’s information is accurate, only the official channels are.
But she refused to elaborate further on this matter, saying:
We cannot answer any questions regarding the matter right now, but if we have any information, we will update it through our official channels.
As of now, it is unclear where the scientist, dubbed ‘Chinese Frankenstein,’ may be.
He is also facing an investigation from the Ministry of Science and Technology, which has ordered him to stop any research.
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